Modi and the Naga talks
Much hype that has been built up after the Narendra Modi led NDA came to power on May 26 that the Naga political issue would be resolved soon, may prove otherwise if a media report is to be based. Narendra Modi is ‘unlikely’ to meet the NSCN-IM leaders in spite of the latter taking much pain in sending feelers several times for a meeting with the Prime Minister, according to a Guwahati based English newspaper. Instead, Central interlocutor for Naga talks RN Ravi has been entrusted to do the job. One may also assume whether Mr Modi is trying to deviate from the practice his predecessors did. Past prime ministers from Narasimha Rao to Atal Bihari Vajpayee and to Dr Manmohan Singh, meeting with the NSCN-IM leaders especially the outfit chairman Isak Chisi Swu and its general secretary Thuingaleng Muivah was one motif of the Indo-Naga peace talks.
However, it is too premature to give a conclusion that the just over three-month old NDA Government treats insipidly to the Naga political issue. Peculiar and different are the style and functioning of Mr Modi in dealing things, no one knows what surprises are in store for the Nagas. On September 20, a ten-member team of the NSCN-IM had left Dimapur for New Delhi on the invitation of the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO). The NSCN-IM source said though they would be meeting the Prime Minister only after the latter’s visit to the United States was over, they had gone in advance to the national capital for the big preparation for talks. The NSCN-IM team was supposed to meet Mr Modi prior to the ‘formal dialogue’.
It is also understandable the tense situation Mr Modi has been undergoing. After the high profile visit to the United States, the pandemonium in the Maharashtra politics and the heightening Indo-Pak border skirmishes have been keeping the Prime Minister extremely busy. Knowing the NSCN-IM leaders are waiting for a while now for him (responding to PMO’s invitation) the Home Ministry might have asked interlocutor RN Ravi to engage the NSCN-IM leaders until such time when Mr Modi finds time to meet the Naga leaders. Expression of resentments without digging into labyrinth of situation can be disastrous.
To cite a case, Suspension of Operation (SoO) term involving the two Kuki umbrella underground groups, the Manipur Government and the Government of India had expired on August 22, 2014. However, there was no sign of routine tripartite meeting on the day to formalise the extension of the SoO term though both the umbrella bodies, the Kuki National Organisation (KNO) and United Peoples’ Front (UPF) had intimated their willingness to further extend the SoO term for another one year. The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) had reportedly intimated the Manipur Government that the SoO term had been extended without the tripartite meeting held. This development was reportedly informed verbally to the Kuki groups by certain official from the Manipur Government. However, KNO had voiced its frustration saying a ‘tripartite meeting is a must’ to formalize the extension of the SoO term. After several days of the expiry of SoO, the KNO was happy to learnt that things were taking time as the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) is ‘studying’ the issue this time. The jubilant KNO termed it as ‘scaling up of the issue to another level’.