The assembly election in Nagaland will be held on schedule, Home Minister Rajnath Singh said today amidst a demand by the state’s civil society groups for deferring the polls to facilitate a solution to the vexed Naga insurgency issue. This was conveyed by the home minister to Nagaland Chief Minister T R Zeliang when the latter met him here yesterday. “HM also told the Nagaland Chief Minister that announcing the dates for assembly elections is the prerogative of the Election Commission and the elections have to be held on schedule,” the office of the home minister tweeted. During the meeting, the chief minister also gave some suggestions to the home minister for a solution to the vexed Naga issue. “HM told him that the negotiations of various Naga groups with the interlocutor will continue,” another tweet said.
Nagaland Health and Family Welfare Minister Imkong Imchen on Tuesday said he supported the demand of various Naga groups to defer the upcoming assembly elections in order to facilitate a solution to the seven-decade-old Naga insurgency. Various civil society groups have placed the demand –signing of a final peace accord with the insurgent group NSCN-IM before the assembly elections. On Tuesday, the Naga Hoho, an apex Naga tribal body, has sought Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s help in postponing the forthcoming Nagaland assembly elections, saying that the vexed insurgency problem should be resolved first.
“It is the unanimous view of the Naga people that the political solution or Naga peace accord is more important than elections and therefore, it has become imperative that the elections to the legislative assembly of Nagaland be deferred for peace and tranquility,” the tribal body said. Assembly elections in Nagaland, Meghalaya and Tripura are due in February-March and an announcement in this regard is expected early next month. The expectations for a lasting peace have soared in Nagaland, which had been hit by insurgency for decades, after the Centre and the NSCN-IM signed a framework agreement in 2015.
The National Socialist Council of Nagaland (Isak-Muivah) (NSCN-IM) has been engaged with peace talks with the interlocutor of the central government since 1997, when it announced a ceasefire agreement after a bloody insurgency movement which started in Nagaland soon after the country’s Independence. During a visit to Nagaland in November last, President Ram Nath Kovind had said the state was at the threshold of making history as the final agreement on the Naga political issue would soon be arrived at and a lasting peace achieved.
On September 19, Nagaland Governor P B Acharya had said the vexed Naga issue would be solved within a few months. Seeking to allay concerns of three northeastern states, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh had said on November 8 that the territorial integrity of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam and Manipur would not be compromised while inking the final Naga peace accord. The insurgent group NSCN-IM’s key demand is to integrate Naga-inhabited areas of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam and Manipur, which has been strongly opposed by the BJP-ruled states.