Mid-Course Correction

The decision to dissolve the DAN Sub-Committee for Peace to facilitate the formation of a Joint Legislators’ Committee for Peace is a welcome development given that the decision to exclude the Opposition Congress Party from having any say in the peace and reconciliation process was in the very first place, a fundamentally flawed notion of addressing the issue itself. In an earlier editorial ‘Combined Responsibility’ written in November 2005 in The Morung Express it was suggested that it was “in the fitness of things for Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio to walk that extra mile and push for setting up a smaller joint action committee on the lines of the Consultative Committee for Peace but this time with members drawn in from all political parties and representing all shades of opinion. 

The simple logic is to involve all parties involved without sidestepping or hurting anybody. Only then can a collective decision be expected in which all parties or groups would have a stake in it and hence remain accountable to the process itself. Unless an agreement or decision has wide-ranging support cutting across party and factional lines the very legitimacy of any political order will remain questionable and may only create more differences than commonality. With the decision of the DAN government to dissolve the Sub-Committee for Peace, the response from the Opposition Congress Party will be keenly watched over the next few days. 

If at all the Congress responds favorably to the proposed Joint Legislators’ Committee for Peace, all the political parties will have to abandon rigid stands or claims and instead work collectively by submitting their political interests for the overall objective of bringing about peace among the Nagas. Looking at the overall situation, it has to be said that the future indeed look ominous. A complete polarization of the Naga political society has now engulfed the political landscape in Nagaland and beyond. To further add to this woe, fissures are along tribal and party lines which is only accentuating the problem further. 

The DAN government would also have to take a part of the blame for allowing this fissure to come to such a pass. Although it has professed that ‘equi-closeness’ is to remain close with all factions, in practice, this has not happened. The DAN government may have to admit to this gross miscalculation it had put to paid. At the end of the day for both Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio and his predecessor SC Jamir, despite their good intention of remaining equi-close or equi-distant with the armed factions, both have not been able to apply their respective doctrine in letter and spirit. While many eyebrows were raised when the DAN government first set-up the Consultative Committee for Peace (CCP) and the sub-committee without any form of representation from the Opposition Congress, Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio may have just saved him from committing political hara-kiri by now taking a mid-course correction. This move by the DAN to widen the ambit of the internal peace process could well turn out at the end to be a politically important decision. For the beleaguered Neiphiu Rio led DAN government, this rare peace offensive may just be what the good doctor ordered. 

As mentioned several times in this column, the coming together of all political parties from Nagaland and their respective MLAs in a Legislators Forum although long overdue nevertheless, provides a small window of opportunity to address the conflict among different Naga groups and factions.