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Naga issue: Elusive solution

After Narendra Modi became Prime Minister in 2014, he promised to resolve the Naga issue within 18 months. Yet, he will soon complete his tenure without even disclosing the contents of the Framework Agreement

Oken Jeet Sandham | New Delhi |

It all started with Prime Minister Narendra Modi announcing soon after assuming office that he would resolve the Naga political issue within 18 months. But he surprised the world when he did not touch the Naga political issue while addressing the inaugural function of the Hornbill Festival on 1 December 2014 at Kisama, a few kilometres away from Kohima. His silence on the Naga issue left Nagas and the world stunned. Modi surprised many by entering a Framework Agreement with NSCN (IM) on 3 August 2015. This happened almost within a year of his taking over as Prime Minister.

President Ramnath Kovind, on the other hand, while addressing the inaugural function of the Hornbill Festival on 1 December 2017 at Kisama, proudly said, “I am confident that a final agreement — one that is fair to all and meets the expectations and aspirations of all — will be reached soon.”

As the Naga people started losing their confidence in the leaderships of the Government of India and Naga National Political Groups towards finding a solution to the issue, tribal hohos, civil societies and all political parties came together under the slogan “Solution before Election” and started demanding the Centre to resolve it before the elections to the 13th Nagaland Legislative Assembly.

All the political parties had even made a “Joint Declaration” on 29 January last year at Kohima to not file nomination papers for the elections to the 13th Nagaland Legislative Assembly. But within hours, the BJP backed out from the “Joint Declaration” thereby opening the floodgates for other political parties to file nomination papers for the elections.

But the U-turn of BJP was not unexpected because a week ahead of it on 22 January last year, their National Secretary in-charge of Northeast and Jammu and Kashmir, Ram Madhav announced “Election for Solution” at Dimapur.

Interestingly, after one-and-half months, Governor PB Acharya while talking to the press on 6 March at Raj Bhavan, Kohima disclosed that that the Naga political issue would be resolved within six months.

Modi suddenly sprang up in the poll campaign in Nagaland’s Tuensang District in February 2018 announcing that the Naga political issue may be resolved in the next few months. Even though he came to Nagaland on two occasions, Modi never addressed the press in the state.

But Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee while visiting Nagaland on 28 October 2003 addressed a press conference at Kohima and explained about the position of the Naga peace process at that time. That is the difference between them.

Regrettably, Modi has not disclosed the contents of the Framework Agreement till today and the growing suspicion on his delaying tactics in resolving the issue is now complete.

(The writer has authored Narendra Modi and Naga Peace Accord and Modi Walking on Elusive Naga Peace)