Tirade on Statehood

Going by the recent spate of statements dished out on the Naga political issue, Nagaland Home Minister Imkong L Imchen is certainly on a high after the ruling NPF’s astounding victory in the Aonglenden bye-polls where the NPF candidate defeated the former Chief Minister SC Jamir. Since the Home Minister was given charge of the poll campaign there and the subsequent win against the heavyweight and that too from the Congress stronghold of Aonglenden, in this moment of victory, the former must be under the impression that he can do no wrong even to the extent of questioning his own allegiance as a State Home Minister under oath of the Indian constitution. Although the role of his government as pronounced by the Chief Minister is that of a facilitator, breaking from this, Imchen is now censuring the Government of India for the problems and delay in the dialogue process. The Home Minister has even gone to the extent of stating that “we are not satisfied with statehood only”. If this is so, the right thing for the Minister is to resign from the present State government and become an active participant in the dialogue so that he can push for a better deal, which though is best left to the Naga political groups to pursue. Our politicians must be well aware that Statehood is not an end in itself. Every right thinking Naga knows this. Even the Government of India including the present Congress led UPA government is well aware about the deficiency of Statehood status for the Nagas. The State Home Minister should not think that he alone can champion the cause of Naga nationhood. Many have sacrificed blood, sweat and tears.
The stated position of successive State governments (including Congress regime under SC Jamir) has always been that it will give way for any new dispensation once a political settlement is reached. Until that time, no matter how inadequate it may be even for the likes of our Home Minister, the State government will continue to function and perform its “role of active facilitator”, to borrow the term and policy of the present Neiphiu Rio government.  Whether the Chief Minister subscribes to the views of his Home Minister, the latter has been criticizing the signing of the 16-point agreement and subsequent granting of statehood. Though unfortunate as it may be, this is past history. The point is that let us now focus on what needs to be done now in the present by today’s leaders so that a political solution, which has eluded the Naga people for so long, becomes a reality in our lifetime. It would be immature on the part of politicians to harp too much on the past especially when it comes to the Naga political issue. Most present politicians in Nagaland have in some way being part of the political process which evolved through various events and institutions. Imkong Imchen himself had been President of DCC Mokokchung for three terms and was Vice-President of NPCC for close to two terms before contesting as an Independent in the 2003 election and as NPF candidate in the last poll edition. To be fair to all, whatever had been done on the 16-Point agreement and thereafter should not be made into a prestige issue now. After all the Naga political issue is greater than the 16-Point Agreement. The important point now is that a political dialogue is underway between two political entities the NSCN and the Government of India. And this would suggest that both are now negotiating for ‘another’ political settlement higher than the present status. As such the question of who is right and who is wrong should not be taken up at this juncture, especially by those who are enjoying State power. Rather the focus should be on doing things the right way and not repeating old mistakes.