Naga talks must have a destination: Leishemba Sanajaoba

IMPHAL, 21st Aug: Leishemba Sanajaoba, the titular king of Manipur who was recently sworn in as a Member of Parliament in Rajya Sabha, said that the ongoing peace talks between the government of India and the National Socialist Council of Nagalim (NSCN-IM) must conclude peacefully.
Sanajaoba was on his maiden visit to the hill district of Ukhrul after he got elected as a member of the Upper House.
In an exclusive interview with EastMojo, Sanajaoba said that Naga peace talks must have a destination but the final solution shouldn’t create any kind of unwanted trouble, both in the hills and the valley. It should not hurt the feelings of the people in the state, he added.
He further stated that the struggles by the Nagas have been going on over 60 years now and the final agreement between the Centre and the NSCN-IM should be a peaceful and long-lasting one.
“The Indo-Naga peace process was started peacefully and the final solution must not end in any violence but all the stakeholders involved in the talks should find a way for a peaceful and final agreement,” said the titular Maharaja.
“I pray to God that Naga peace talks will be handed over in a peaceful manner,” he added.
The titular king of Manipur made an appeal to the people in the state, both in the hills and the valley, to avoid any unwanted circumstances out of the Naga political talks.
The state home department had earlier clarified that the N Biren Singh-led government had no discussions with the Centre till date to pave way for signing of the final agreement for the Naga peace talks.
Manipur government had also requested the Union ministry of home affairs (MHA) to provide a copy of the draft accord at least a month before the date fixed for a consultation so that the state would be in a position to express its views and comments, joint secretary (home) Rehanuddin Choudhury had said earlier.
As per reports, the Centre had assured that consultations with the Manipur government and various other stakeholders in the state will be made before inking the final accord between the Centre and the NSCN-IM.
'Greater Nagalim' or integration of all Naga-inhabited areas is one of the core demands of the NSCN-IM in the peace, talks apart from a separate flag and constitution.
Apart from Nagaland, Manipur has a sizeable Naga population in the state besides Arunachal Pradesh, Assam and Myanmar.
On being asked the significance of his visit, Sanajaoba said: “It was an unplanned visit and I came here to seek my blessings from my elder brother (headman of Hungpung village) on my success as a member of Rajya Sabha.” As per historical tradition, the Hungpung Khayaiwo (chief of Hungpung village) and the Meiteis share the same ‘progenitor’ and the tradition of friendship, love and relationship is still observed till date.
For the 48-year-old Maharaja, entering politics wasn’t all rosy as a section of the people in the state, especially his followers, were not pleased having their royal head joining the political realm.
Although Maharaja Sanajaoba is no longer the monarch of Manipur legally, he continues to be the symbolic and spiritual head of many rituals and indigenous festivals of the state.
The Maharaja expressed his gratitude to the people in the state for the love, support and encouragement that he received when the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) launched him as the candidate for RS elections.
“When I was in a very confused and distressed state just before the election, my brothers and sisters from the hills visited my house and consoled me, prayed for me and also showed their solidarity with me during those difficult days,” said Sanajaoba.
“They encouraged me and said that I should go as the Maharaja of Manipur to the Parliament as a lone member of the Rajya Sabha from the state,” he added.
However, according to him, people from the valley were not very content about him joining politics and said that he should abdicate the throne if he wanted to go to Parliament.
According to the titular king of Manipur, politics and Maharaja are parallel since both the entities work for the welfare of the society.
"Politics and Maharaja are not different things. This politics is the game and character of the Maharaja. Since 1949, when we merged with India, we avoided politics and concentrated on customary laws. Our forefathers were ruling Manipur in a different form of politics," he said.
The newly elected lone member of the Upper House from Manipur is confident that he will balance his duty both as Maharaja and as an MP. Being elected as a member of the Rajya Sabha, according to Sanajaoba, has been a golden chance and an opportunity to serve the people of the state more significantly, something he feels that he couldn’t do over the past years.
“For the last 25 years, I have been the Maharaja of Manipur without either power or money. And during the years, I have been visiting a maximum number of villages both in the hills and valleys and I have seen many things but I couldn’t do anything remarkable as a Maharaja,” he said.
"I will focus more on the hills but it does not mean that I neglect my brothers and sisters in the valley. Comparing to the hills, people in the valley have already developed, and that is why I want to focus my priority in the hills this time," he added.
Sanajaoba also appealed the people of the state that the brotherhood between the people of the hills and valley should not be broken at any cost and must be strengthened and the bond of love should be carried out in future generations.

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