New Delhi: Changing its earlier stance, Nagaland’s militant organization NSCN-IM has clarified that they will not use ‘force or coercion’ to make people boycott the upcoming election. This is a major relief for the Election Commission, as this paves way for successful participation of people in the electoral process.
National Socialist Council of Nagaland, an insurgent group, whose original demand has been independence from India, has been in talks with the Centre over a ‘Naga Accord’, which would fulfil certain demands while staying within the Indian state.
After the mainstream political parties decided to defy the boycott diktat and contest the election, NSCN-IM had made a veiled threat, stating that any national worker found “defying the decision of the Naga people would face serious consequences as per the Ajha (decree) of the government”.
“We fully support the prudent decision of the Naga people for solution of the Naga issue and hence, not to go for election. We will stand by this decision to the end. We reiterate our stand that imposed election will not be acceptable to the Naga people,” it added.
The insurgent group was first to announce its call for ‘solution before election’, which was later picked up by the larger Naga civil society. On January 29, the heads of several tribal communities had issued a boycott call for the elections scheduled on February 27.
Core Committee of Nagaland Tribal Hohos and Civil Organisations (CCNTHCO) had issued the January 29 declaration, demanding a "solution (to the Indo-Naga political issue) before election."
CCNTHCO had, with the support of seven Naga insurgent groups, compelled 11 political parties to sign a joint agreement to not contest the elections to the 13th Nagaland Legislative Assembly. But the boycott call fell flat when political parties and its candidates rushed to file their nomination papers.
The committee was later dissolved by its founders who admitted that people were largely “reluctant” to stand by the committee’s demand for ‘solution before election’ without knowing what the solution is.
Mainstream political parties whose candidates will be contesting the upcoming elections include the BJP, Congress, JD(U), NCP, AAP and those from regional parties such as Naga People's Front (NPF), Nationalist Democratic People's Party (NDPP) and Naga People's Party (NPP).
The Centre has been engaged in peace talks with NSCN-IM for the last 22 years. In 2015, a 'Framework Agreement' was signed between the two entities in presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to set the agenda for formulating the final solution.
The Centre later brought in six other insurgent groups of Nagaland on board the peace process to find an all-inclusive lasting solution.
Nagaland Chief Minister TR Zeliang had, in November, said that the Centre was likely to announce the peace agreement with NSCN-IM and six other groups either before Christmas or before the assembly elections. When that did not happen civil society and the various pressure groups led by the NSCN-IM demanded dissolution of the poll process till the final solution is declared by the Union Government.