Inching towards a final pact ? Interests of Manipur

Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma seems to be in the thick of it, or at least that is the impression that has been created and quite successfully. Obvious that New Delhi is reaching out to the people who it thinks can be productive in the ongoing political dialogue with the NSCN (IM) and the NNPGs and Sarma seems to fit the bill quite well. Trouble shooter or something more ? Only time can tell but it is significant to note that it was none other Union Home Minister Amit Shah who is understood to have at least once assigned the man from Assam to meet Thuingaleng Muivah in a bid to take the ongoing political talks with the NSCN (IM) to a logical conclusion. Difficult to say how things will pan out in the coming days, but it is significant to note that the NSCN (IM) has resumed political dialogue with the Centre since May in 2021. A sort of an acceptable path seems to have been put in place in so far the demand for a separate Naga Flag and Naga Constitution is concerned and this is where one sees political pragmatism at its best. It was political pragmatism when New Delhi reportedly offered to include the Naga Constitution in the Constitution of India and which seems to have paved the way for the resumption of the political dialogue. In one stroke, New Delhi seems to have addressed the demand for a Naga Constitution while sticking to its stand that there cannot be two Constitution in the country. This is where it becomes important to acknowledge the role that could have been played by political figures such as Himanta Biswa Sarma. It is also interesting to note that while the Chief Minister of a neighbouring State seems to have been marked out by no one less than the Union Home Minister to meet Thuingaleng Muivah so as not to derail the peace process, Manipur still seems to have been kept in the dark. Till date there is no report of any political leader or social leader of Manipur being asked by the Centre to help facilitate the talk and bring it to a logical conclusion. The only time that Manipur comes to the frame of the ongoing peace talk is when it is repeatedly assured that its territorial integrity would not be disturbed under any circumstances. The point however is whether the interests of Manipur ought to be understood only in the two words, ‘territorial integrity’ or whether it is more than this.
The Sangai Express had already noted that Manipur should also try to convince New Delhi that it ought to be kept well informed, if not entirely taken on board. The constraints faced by New Delhi is understood, for it is not likely that the NSCN (IM) would open up freely to any political leader from Manipur. The trust deficit runs deep. If at all the Naga integration call is acknowledged by New Delhi then Assam too would stand to lose some of her territories to the grand dream of a Greater Lim and so would Arunachal Pradesh. The point however is, Assam and even Arunachal Pradesh have not been as vocal as Manipur in the call to protect its territorial integrity. Moreover it is difficult to say how much a solution with the NSCN (IM) and the NNPGs would impact on Assam or Arunachal Pradesh. This could perhaps be one reason why Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma seems to be in the thick of things in so far as the ongoing negotiation between the NSCN (IM), NNPGs and the Centre is concerned. Coming to the peace process, which is reportedly at its final leg, it stands that something will have to be given to the NSCN (IM). This is a point which should be acknowledged, afterall, no one will talk for over 25 years to return ‘empty handed’. The crucial question however is, what is it that can be given without eroding the identity of Manipur as a distinct geo-political reality. How this is worked out remains to be seen.