The newly appointed Governor of Nagaland RN Ravi did not mince words when he addressed the citizens of the state on the country’s 73rd Independence Day. While dwelling on the chequered history of the last 55 years of the state he fervently appealed the people to grab the opportunity as Nagaland is at the ‘cusp of history’. As the Governor of a state that is fast approaching yet another settlement to end the decades-old political problem, the address to the citizens in such a tone and tenor is timely and the right approach. As it is natural to have an air of uncertainty in such a scenario, a direct and honest approach is required to build trust as the Governor is also the chief interlocutor of the peace talks.
The content of his address does not leave much room to read between the lines although the society is in a situation where there is a rise in scepticism due to the many years of political negotiations that attained 22 years recently. The address also comes a week after the Governor had to give an official clarification on Article 371(A) of the Constitution of India, which has special provisions for the state, that it is a solemn and a sacred commitment made to the people of Nagaland. The recent abrogation of Article 370 by the President removing special provisions for the state of Jammu and Kashmir had created an air of uncertainty in the minds of the people.
As for the majority of the public who are still in the dark about how the settlement will be, their naivety due to lack of proper information is being misused by many. Starting from plain fear mongers and pessimists to the experts whose intent may be to let the dialogue fail, there are just too many actors from within the state and beyond that add to the intricacies resulting in confusion and mass depression. Although ideology is blamed for the division among the nationalist groups on various lines, the real reasons are more than what meets the eye. The question of personal feuds, power both in the underground and overground, economic dominance, tribal equations etc., are real but such topics have become taboo. Even for the so-called over ground politicians, excessive political polarisation has led to an era of trust deficit. It has reached a level where even the political parties that are in alliance do not trust each other. All these factors breed more speculations thus confusing the people more.
In such a scenario, it is a cause for concern that Nagas might lose the chance of a lifetime. The Governor has rightly appealed that the time has come for Nagaland to grab the opportunity. It is prudent to accept that when the Governor himself has categorically stated Article 371(A) is sacred then it means that any other settlement obviously will be better than the last. It is time for the people of Nagaland and the Nagas as a whole to sort the differences and come together. This is not the time for fear-mongering and speculations. If the current opportunity is missed then posterity may not forgive us.