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Saturday, December 04, 2021

Naga solution gun misfires again, Chief Minister Zeliang ‘misquoted’

Misfire once again as the conventional media and social media jumped the gun over a long-speculated solution to the protracted Indo-Naga political issue.

Written by Kallol Dey |
Updated: November 29, 2017 12:46:00 pm
Naga political issue, Naga Peace accord, TR Zeliang, Nagaland CM, Zeliang misquoted, Nagaland signing of Framework Agreement, Nagaland politics, Nagaland news, India news, Indian Express news Nagaland Chief Minister TR Zeliang (Source: PTI Photo/File)

Solution to the Naga political issue as a gift for the Nagas first found voice in December 2009 when the then-Home Minister of Nagaland, Imkong L Imchen, aired optimism that the “Naga Political issue should also come to a logical conclusion as a New Year gift to the Naga people”. The gift basket was though empty in Year 2010.

Two years later, the gift-talk was heard again in 2011. NSCN-IM general secretary Th Muivah hinted at a solution to the Naga political issue as a 2012 New Year gift after emerging from talks on December 13, 2011, with the then-Union Home Minister P Chidambaram. The gift was not delivered.

Then in 2014, the misfire was of epic proportions with the dramatic Naga Peace Accord. Even before the richochet had died down, the Centre quickly declared the clandestine affair as “signing of Framework Agreement” and not “Peace Accord” as initially declared. The Naga populace and mass-based Naga civil societies, caught flat-footed by the maverick move suffered instant doronophobia, the fear of opening gifts.

On Saturday evening, November 2017, the gift gun misfired again. Journalists and social media went into a tizzy. Nagaland Chief Minister TR Zeliang had reportedly announced that the solution would arrive as a 2017 Christmas gift for the Nagas. Keyboards rattled, and reports were filed. But by late evening, the Nagaland CM, clarified through a Facebook post, that he has been misquoted. The beleaguered chief minister was in New Delhi, but not to woo Santa Claus. The “misquote” apparently happened during his interaction with media on the occasion of the inauguration of the newly constructed official Nagaland House in the country’s capital. This is what Zeliang posted on Facebook –

“There is some fake report which is going viral, where I was quoted as saying, “The Accord will be signed before Christmas”. I would like to clarify that, we are trying for a solution to the long pending Naga Political Issue. And our government desires and is hopeful for a solution before Christmas and also since the assembly elections is scheduled next year, a solution before election is what we want. However, it is sad to learn that ‘Reporters’ misquoted on such sensitive issue and makes an attempt to confuse the general public… I would like to reiterate that, I have not ‘declared’ or said that a solution or “Accord” will be signed before Christmas.”

Somebody had jumped the gun. A final settlement would need all groups including NSCN-IM to be on the same page. And just recently had six outfits hopped onto the ‘talks’ bandwagon.

But, the misquote wasn’t all that out of place.

Zeliang along with his cabinet colleagues and MP Neiphiu Rio had met Home Minister Rajnath Singh in the beginning of November. The Naga leaders had impressed upon the Union minister the urgency of the solution before the Nagaland Assembly polls early next year. Rio was quoted in the media saying – “the final settlement does not seem to be very far and that it will be in the interest of all if the settlement is done before Christmas”.

The political affairs of Nagaland in 2017 has been chequered with the shadow of the BJP and New Delhi constantly lurking around the state’s regional party politics. BJP has had Nagaland on crosshairs creating unease among the Naga political leaders already dogged by allegations of corruption. The forthcoming polls and Naga political solution will be most crucial in deciding the political destiny of the state and have far-reaching effect. Nagaland reeling under bad governance, shady policies, taxation by underground factions and unsure future does not need a fancy gift, but sincerity. And the beleaguered Nagas would do well to look the gift horse in the mouth.

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