Imphal, Oct 20: Neighbours Manipur and Nagaland have not been on good terms from the times when Congress ruled both the states and at the Centre. Now that Congress is alone, which is to say BJP is in office at the Centre and NPF in Nagaland, with the latter two parties having made an alliance, the Ibobi-government of Manipur seems to have little say whenever Nagaland does something in the interest of Manipur, be it ‘forced’ resignation of MLAs after instigations by leaders from across the state’s border.
At the same time, a landlocked state like Manipur has been put at the mercy of Nagaland as the “only transportable road” to the outside world passes through the neighbouring state. Like an enemy state, at the behest of Naga leaders in Nagaland, hill residents of the state have been declaring the war-like strategy of economic blockade many a times and hold the Manipur people to ransom. Gradually, the state’s integrity seems to be eroding with nothing concrete done to stop it.
While Manipur had a clear cut boundary since time immemorial, Nagaland was carved out from Assam. Now, this age-old boundary of Manipur seems to be under attack time and again even during the 21st century, and people from Nagaland are spreading misleading information as if this 2000-year-old history of Manipur never existed. It seems like, if India has a thorn in the form of neibouring Pakistan; Manipur, a mini-India, has a Pakistan-like neighbour in Nagaland.
As the state elections get closer, the battle has now been partly focused on getting maximum of the 20 reserved seats of the hill districts to the Assembly so that those MLAs can speak up for “Southern Nagaland”. This term has been introduced to Manipur when some signboards were put up in Senapati district nearly two decades ago to describe the Naga-inhabited areas of Manipur as part of the present day Nagaland.
This time around, Nagaland CM T R Zeliang led the missive with an address to a huge gathering at the first ever conference of ‘Naga Village Authority of South Nagalim’ at the local ground of Tagaramphung in Senapati district on Wednesday.
Indeed, Zeliang has done what NSCN-IM leader Th Muivah could not. While Muivah was not allowed entry into the state, Zeliang was accorded the status of a state guest. The intention of Zeliang and other Naga leaders could be interpreted as against the interest of Manipur, the long-term strategy of the Nagas and that of Zeliang is indeed laudable.
In his own state, Zeliang has his own tribal problems. The Central Nagaland Tribes Council (CNTC) in an earlier statement had said it never objected the Rongmeis being accorded the Indigenous Inhabitants of Nagaland state to those qualifying the norms of the Nagaland government notification dated the 28th of April 1977, No.AR-8/876. “However, the CNTC also makes the stand of the three tribes of CNTC clear to whomever concerned, that the recognition of Rongmeis with a tribal status of Nagaland state will be opposed and objected together with all the other Naga tribes of Nagaland till it is revoked. On the ongoing tussle involving the Rongmei recognition as an Indigenous Tribe of Nagaland, the CNTC takes this step in opposing the recognition of the mentioned tribe in the larger interest of the people of Nagaland and for the sake of our future generations.”
Despite problems like these, Zeliang has been able to display a view of ‘United Nagas’ at least in Manipur.
Manipur needs to learn a lot from a chief minister like Zeliang who could wield influence in neighbouring states. It is unthinkable of the Manipur chief minister going to Manipuri localities in neighbouring states and hold public meetings in the interest of Manipur, notwithstanding the fact that many problems exists in the state. Local and regional parties of Manipur are also unable to spread their wings beyond the boundary of the state, unllike the NPF, which is in office in Nagaland and targeting to get a double-digit figure in the upcoming Manipur Legislative Assembly elections.
In view of the above, it is high time that people of Manipur leave aside their differences for the better good of the state, at least for once and continue till stability comes to the state.
Battleground Manipur: Elections, integrity and rhetoric