Make it public
Never in the history of electoral politics in Manipur had a public issue gained centre stage before elections. There has always been a disconnect between street politics and electoral politics. Politician and political parties have always been giving lip service to the vital issues of the state like the protection of territorial integrity, repeal of the draconian Armed Forces Special Powers Act, fake encounters and various other important issues. Yet this time, the powerful All Manipur Students Union (AMSU) alongwith civil society organizations UCM and CCSK has been able to capture the mind of the public on the issue of framework agreement signed between the government of India and the NSCN (IM). The intensity of the movement is such that hordes of BJP leaders including Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Rajnath Singh have come down to Imphal to clarify on the issue. Even the government of India interlocutor RN Ravi has gone on record clarifying on the issue. The clarification spree has been prompted by the movement launched by AMSU and likeminded groups and not because of the Chief Minister Iboi’s challenge. They say, the framework agreement contains nothing detrimental to the political and territorial integrity of Manipur. State BJP leaders have been parroting the same line, as if they have seen the framework agreement. As we said before, no one, perhaps except for Prime Minister Narendra Modi, NSCN(IM) general secretary Thuingaleng Muivah, interlocutor RN Ravi and national security advisor Ajit Doval is privy to the actual contents of the framework agreement signed between the government of India and the NSCN(IM) on August 3, 2015 despite claims by a few. Here and there, hints have been dropped to a chosen few. But, the actual details of the framework agreement are a closely guarded secret. Why is that? They have seen the intensity of the June 18 uprising and subsequent mega rallies and how Manipur had withstood the ravages of relentless economic blockades on its highways for the cause of integrity.
The June 18 uprising occurred during the time of Atal Behari Vajpayee. Yet, they were able to turn ‘non-disclosure’ into an advantage. It was killing two birds with a stone. While it was able to create widespread anxiety and sense of foreboding among the civil society organizations and the general populace, fissures among the communities became active once again. Interlocutor RN Ravi has been meeting and talking to representatives of civil society organizations on both sides of the border. In Nagaland, his mission was to forge a broad consensus among the various groups and factions besides the civil society organizations. However, except for dropping some broad hints of the contents and possible outcome he did not paint a clear picture of the agreement. In Manipur, Ravi’s mission was to broker some sort of a deal with the civil society organizations here while soothing ruffled feathers with assurances of not disturbing the territorial integrity of the state. The deal in his mind could be anything from sixth schedule to a Pan Naga cultural body. What he had said in Nagaland about the framework agreement could have been entirely different from what he had proposed here. Of course, it is the nature of the interlocutor. It is like walking on a tripwire. It is the same with Thuingaleng Muivah also. The ageing general secretary has been keeping cards close to his chest, some say, even from his closest lieutenants. All said and done, the topic of the framework agreement had become dim in the public radar except in occasional discourses of civil society organization. But, it has now come out in the open. The public do not verbal clarifications which say it contains nothing. The general public knows the mind of the NSCN (IM) and the politics of its movements. If it contains nothing detrimental to the state of Manipur, what is the harm in making the framework agreement public, this is a question the government of India must answer.
Leader Writer: Irengbam Arun