Kohima: While the Opposition party questioned the “contradictory” remarks of the governor’s address during the fifth session of the 13th Nagaland Legislative Assembly on January 17 this year, Nagaland chief minister Neiphiu Rio clarified saying that “peace talks” have concluded on a ‘positive note’ and that no mention of the “peace process” concluding successfully was mentioned.
Rio said that the top-most priority of the People’s Democratic Alliance (PDA) government is an early settlement of the ongoing Naga peace talks and that the Joint Legislators Forum (JLF) on the Naga Political Issue was reconstituted on September 18, 2018 in this regard. He highlighted how all political parties, cutting across all differences have united together as the “mandated and elected representatives” of the people standing with one voice and desire towards facilitating an early solution of Naga political issue.
“We are at a crucial juncture in our history. The negotiations between the government of India and the negotiating parties have concluded on 31st October, 2019 on a positive note. It is our hope that divine wisdom prevails and guides the negotiating parties as the modalities, competencies are worked out in due course of time,” he said.
He appealed all other groups to join the peace process in the interest of the people of the state, irrespective of tribe or community or political party affiliation. “We have to transcend all boundaries that bind us within our individual comfort zones,” he added.
On the contradictory remark made by the Opposition on the governor’s address, Rio pointed, “It is clear that the negotiations have concluded on a positive note. Negotiations had been going on for the last 22 years and the talks had to be concluded so that an Agreement can come about. No pact can be signed unless the points of contention are hammered out between the parties involved. It is the logical and rational way to hold talks and we have expressed gratitude and appreciation to the Government of India and the negotiating Naga groups”.
“Nowhere has it been mentioned that the peace process has concluded. Only the talks have concluded on a positive note which signifies that the negotiating parties have arrived at meeting points on the various topics of the negotiations,” he added.
Despite apprehensions, Rio said that the talk concluded on a positive note and that all were aware about it. He said that it is the duty of the elected leaders to pursue and discuss with both negotiating groups—NSCN(IM) and NNPGs—to unite and arrive at an understanding. He also expressed his contentment on the recent meeting of both NSCN(IM) and NNPGs, towards coming to an understanding.
In a meeting held with Prime Minister last month, Rio said that the delegation-led by him had requested the premier to “set up a time frame” for early settlement as Nagas wants settlement, peace and development. While PM Modi had expressed the same, Rio repeated the premier’s statement which said that “to have this settlement, Nagas must come together” and that the Naga leaders must unite the groups. He said that this comment from the PM sent a message that “back home”, there is “need to work hard for unity so that settlement comes to us”.
Further noting that all should openly discuss on this matter, he said that there are no differences in regard to aspirations for an early settlement of the issue. However, misunderstandings between the political parties grow as there are less gatherings in regard to the talk which leads to a communication gap.
Meanwhile, Speaker of the House, Sharingain Longkumer, has summoned the Joint Legislature Forum (JLF) meeting on February 12 at the conference hall of the state Assembly at 10:00 to deliberate on the Naga political issue. The JLF is inclusive of all the 60 Naga legislators and the two Members of Parliament.