Questions on Naga Peoples’ Front

The pertinent question now is, what and how will the NPF react to Manipur politics in the light of present developments?

Slow and steady, but it is making its presence felt in Manipur politics. The Naga Peoples’ Front (NPF) given birth by Thuingaleng Muivah to articulate a new politics in the Northeast is slowly gaining grounds in Manipur through its participation in the ruling coalition led by the BJP. Unlike its other partner National Peoples’ Party (NPP) which wrested ministerial posts for all of its MLAs along with plum portfolios, NPF had to contend with a single minister in the person of the MLA from Mao assembly constituency Losi Dikho, even though it had the same numbers with NPP. Only recently, with the resignation of Congress turncoat Th Shyamkumar, the NPF state president Awangbou Newmai was sworn in as a minister.

After that, another NPF leader was appointed as vice-chairperson of Planning and Development Authority (PDA). Most recently, the infant terrible of NPF and Phungyar MLA Leishiyo was elected the chairman of the all-important Hill Areas Committee (HAC) in the Manipur Legislative Assembly with the blessings of the chief minister. Before election to the Cabinet rank post, Leishiyo had held the position of Advisor to the Chief Minister appointed only recently after the induction of Awangbou Newmai as minister.

While forming the coalition government, the BJP had often been criticized for partnering with a party with the avowed objective of breaking up the territorial integrity of the state of Manipur, as laid down by the NSCN-IM chief Thuingaleng Muivah in his dreams of creating a greater Nagaland or Nagalim. The India government interlocutor cum Nagaland Governor RN Ravi and other factions of the Naga Underground represented by NNPG have already put a doorstop to that dream and in most likelihood, a final agreement is on the table to be signed even without the NSCN-IM. The possibility has forced the NSCN-IM on a new offensive to woo the Nagas of Nagaland state proper and dispatch a high level team to New Delhi to supplement the efforts of Thuingaleng Muivah. It must indeed be frustrating for Muivah, as the Centre through various leaks suggesting a new Naga accord bypassing the NSCN-IM, if it continues with the ‘impossible demand’ of a separate flag and constitution overtly, while covertly demanding an integration of the Naga contiguous areas. The Nagaland Nagas do not care much about Muivah’s dreams, but it is keen to have a permanent solution within the state of Nagaland. Now, the question is, what if the government of India signs an accord without the NSCN-IM? Will the NSCN-IM demand a Southern Nagaland, like in the old days?

That is a question for the oldies. The pertinent question now is, what and how will the NPF react to Manipur politics in the light of present developments? Say for example, on the question of delimitation issue and Muivah question of peace and settlement does it have a say worth considering? To the questions of maintaining Manipur’s territorial integrity, how far it is willing to go or does it still go for breaking up Manipur? These questions have to be settled first.

_Editorial

First Published:Sept. 17, 2020, 10:37 a.m.