UNION home minister Rajnath Singh on Sunday declaring that the framework agreement, signed in August 2015 between the Centre and the NSCN-IM, will not affect the territorial integrity of Manipur might have allayed apprehension of certain section of the society but his flat rejection that contents of the pact have nothing to do with redrawing the map of Manipur or other north eastern states, is likely to stir the proverbial hornet’s nest as the same agreement is being heralded as a path-breaking truce towards solving the vexed Naga political issue. As was expected, along with clarifying on the agreement Rajnath went on to the extent of accusing the Congress government in Manipur of surreptitiously raking up the issue with the dual objective of projecting the BJP as an entity that has no concern for protecting the territorial boundary of Manipur and to fool people by spreading canards so as to cover up own misdeeds of the state government. Moreover, the home minister assuring that the central government and BJP will never compromise with the territorial integrity of Manipur and that Manipur finds no mention in the framework agreement appear to give the right weightage, at-least to those individuals and organisations who/which have been most vocal that any decision taken by the Centre to resolve the Naga issue should pose any threat to the land and history of Manipur. Yet another notable comment by Rajnath was that BJP is always committed to translate its assurances into action, that automatically also includes upholding territorial integrity of Manipur and other states of the region, while conveying with same the conviction that the peace talks will continue with the NSCN-IM.
Significantly, Rajnath’s day-long visit to galvanise support for the BJP in the run-up to the state elections was greeted by slogan shouting volunteers of All Manipur Students’ Union in pursuit of the demand for making public the contents of the framework agreement. Signing of the agreement was proclaimed as epochal and hailed by the Naga populace as glimmers of hope towards amicably settling the Indo-Naga political differences, though the deal was not free from evoking different perceptions amongst the various stakeholders as the pact’s contents have not been placed in the public domain. For the record, prominent Naga social bodies including the Naga Hoho, Naga Students’ Federation, Naga Mothers Association, Naga Peoples’ Movement for Human Rights and United Naga Council – most of whom were already amenable to the NSCN-IM’s idea of a settlement for the Nagas – had given their consent to the process. Even before the deal was struck, there were continuous efforts by the outfit to re-establish its clout and dominance in the claimed areas of supposed Nagalim, including the Naga-inhabited areas of Manipur, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh. Though reactions by the Nagas in Nagaland to Rajnath’s announcement could not be comprehended, such unrestrained comment by the Union home minister is likely to dampen mood of the Nagas of Manipur, as they have been backing the peace talks since day one of the dialogue process on the belief that bringing all the contagious Naga areas under a single administrative unit will be a reality sooner than later. Without any doubt Rajnath’s comments will definitely generate mixed response on account of the sharp division created by the framework agreement, and as such only time will tell the seriousness of implications of the home minister’s take on the issue.