UPA govt had almost clinched deal in 2012

UPA govt had almost clinched deal in 2012

It has emerged that a formula drawn up in 2012 was put the Manmohan Singh government close to a peace agreement with Naga insurgents.

However, the idea was dropped following stiff opposition from the Congress chief ministers of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur, who were unwilling to consider any proposal that would be close to the NSCN(IM) demand that “all contiguous areas are under one administrative umbrella”.

A former Union minister, who was involved in the negotiations, said former Union minister Oscar Fernandes had spoken to all stakeholders and worked out a formula acceptable to all Naga leaders. The NSCN(IM) had agreed, in writing, to accept the Indian Constitution, dropping its long-held demand for a separate country for the Nagas. The formula is said to have envisaged one of the three possible solutions: transfer of two Naga-dominant districts each in Assam, Arunachal and Manipur to Nagaland, creation of autonomous district councils, or letting a Naga cultural body oversee running of social and educational institutions in Naga-dominant districts in neighbouring states.

The Congress chief ministers had made it clear to the party high-command then that they could not politically get people of their state to accept any of the formulae, and feared violent opposition. The Centre then decided not to proceed with it, said the former minister.

R S Pandey, then government negotiator, suggested a deal not involving the contentious redrawing of state boundaries in November 2013. However, the NSCN(IM) insisted on the transfer of at least Naga-dominated areas of the districts of Tamenlong, Senapati, Ukhrul and Chandel in Manipur — short of its Nagalim (greater Nagaland) demand. On July 17, when the 19-member Parliamentary Working Committee (PWC) of Nagaland met Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Delhi, he told them: “You expect 100. (But) If I give you 80 per cent, doesn’t mean I will not give 20 per cent.” Interestingly, this “80 per cent” had prominently dominated the two-day discussion on the Naga political issue in the Nagaland Assembly on July 23 and 24.

It’s a framework: Ravi

Meanwhile, R N Ravi, the interlocutor for the Naga peace talks, told mediapersons in Nagaland the agreement was a “framework agreement, an agreement where it has basically acknowledged the unique history of Nagas and a relationship of equals”. Ravi also said it was signed in view of the request by NSCN(IM) chairman Isak Chishi Swu, who wanted an accord between the two entities in his lifetime.

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