One burning topic that resurfaces every time state assembly and general elections draw near is “Naga political issue.” It has become an item that politicians and political parties contesting in the state cannot afford to exclude in the menu of electoral dish. Of course, this issue that has remained unsolved to this day despite its existence for over six decades will stay alive but it becomes a topic of discussion only on few occasions such as election time and visit of Indian government’s interlocutor for Naga peace talks RN Ravi to the state. As expected, almost all the candidates contesting in the just concluded Lok Sabha elections promised to work for an honourable and acceptable solution to the much-protracted Naga political issue. Congress party president Rahul Gandhi, who has been very vocal about safeguarding the integrity of Manipur (that has a huge Naga population) while bringing all the Naga people separated by artificial boundaries under one administrative umbrella is expected to be part of “solution” package, told the people of Nagaland during his recent visit to the state that his party would work together with all stakeholders and try to give a resolution as soon as possible. He also urged the crowd to work together to ensure that nobody challenges and attacks the spirit of the Nagas.
Such rhetoric is not new in this part of the world. Prominent political figures of the country never fail to appreciate the “uniqueness” of Nagas whenever they visit Nagaland. Most of them leave the state after assuring an early solution to the much-delayed Naga political issue. But they have failed to bring any difference and the people do not believe them anymore, anyway. If there is one significant development that has happened after the commencement of peace talk between the Indian government and NSCN (IM) in 1997, it has to be the “peace accord,” a framework agreement for Naga peace that was signed on August 3, 2015. “This agreement will end the oldest insurgency in the country. It will restore peace and pave the way for prosperity in the North East. It will advance a life of dignity, opportunity and equity for the Naga people, based on their genius and consistent with the uniqueness of the Naga people and their culture and traditions,” read the bulletin issued by the government after the agreement, dubbed as “historic,” was signed in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. It was no doubt a big achievement, the closest that several years of peace talks have taken towards reaching a possible settlement to the lingering problem. People erupted in jubilation when the framework agreement was signed but it was short-lived. Politicians still continue to talk about Naga political issue every now and then; especially in the few weeks leading up to the polling day but most lawmakers from the state are all hat and no cattle, with no courage to speak about the aspiration of the Naga people in the Parliament. Now, the big questions are: When the elections are over and the dust settles down, will the lawmakers keep their words or eat their own words? Will the historic peace accord become history? It’s time leaders sincerely work together towards bringing a permanent solution so that Nagas can live in peace and with dignity.