Solution after election: False hope or real?
Solution after election’ was the slogan coined by BJP for the last Nagaland Assembly election held in 2018. Now already four years and seven months have passed and the next Assembly election is due early next year but there is no solution in sight to the vexed Naga issue. Some keen observers and analysts have already commented that any solution to the Naga issue is unlikely before the next Nagaland State Assembly polls. They have even hinted that the same slogan ‘solution after election’ is likely to return in the 2023 Assembly election. Elections come and go but the much awaited solution still remains mirage. Given this backdrop, one would like to ask if the slogan ‘solution after election’ was coined with the sole motive of wooing voters in the name of ‘solution’ without the right dose of political will to bring the peace talks to its logical conclusion. It looks like the 25 years old political dialogue has been caught in a deadlock. But no negotiation, political or otherwise, can make any headway if the two negotiating parties stick to their guns and refuse to accommodate each other’s points of view. Whereas the Government of India has categorically stated that it cannot accommodate any separate flag or constitution for the Nagas, the NSCN-IM has time and again unambiguously asserted that it would not accept any solution which does not grant them a separate flag and a separate constitution. Again, whereas NSCN-IM General Secretary and principal negotiator Thuingaleng Muivah claimed that sovereignty and Naga integration were very much on the agenda of the peace talk, the Government of India repeatedly assured all the neighbouring States of Nagaland viz; Arunachal Pradesh, Assam and Manipur that their territorial integrity would not be affected. When the two negotiators are speaking two different languages, all observers are bound to be confused.
Even though NSCN-IM has scaled down its primary demand from sovereignty or complete independence to integration of Naga inhabited areas, separate flag and separate constitution, there is still no meeting point between the Government of India’s standpoint and the rebel group’s demands. To break the deadlock, either of the two negotiating parties or both must concede something. If both the parties choose to stick to their guns, we fear the much hyped and long awaited solution may turn out to be a damp squib. If the Government of India is not willing to make any concession and NSCN-IM stands adamant on its demands, the only thing the Government of India can do is seal a final settlement with the NNPGs, without NSCN-IM. But any solution of which NSCN-IM is no part cannot be called a solution in the real sense of the term and any amount of peace achieved through such a solution will not last long. Perhaps, that is why the Government of India has been dragging its feet on sealing a final settlement to the Naga political issue. No doubt, pressure has been mounting at an unprecedented level upon the NSCN-IM leadership to bring the dialogue process to a conclusion. At the same time, there is no synergy between NSCN-IM and NNPGs on the demand for separate flag and constitution. Perhaps, that is why, all the criticisms are now being targeted at NSCN-IM leadership. The irony of the situation is that NSCN-IM which started the dialogue process is now being seen by many quarters as a stumbling block to a final solution of the Naga issue. However, as the election to the next Nagaland Assembly draws near, the same pressure will be mounting on BJP too as it is in power at New Delhi. Even if they somewhat cushion the pressure by shielding themselves behind the slogan ‘solution after election’ as they did in the previous election, no political party has the moral right to give false hopes to the masses.