New Delhi: Trouble seems to be brewing over the Naga accord with Chief Ministers of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur today attacking the Centre for not consulting them over it and declaring that they will not cede an inch of their land.
“If a single inch of territorial area of Manipur is taken, we will fight tooth and nail,” Manipur Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh told reporters targeting the Narendra Modi dispensation.
A ‘greater Nagalim' or integration of Naga-inhabited has been the main demand of NSCN-IM, with whom the Centre signed the agreement on August 3 aiming to end the decades-long insurgency in the northeastern state. It is, however, unclear whether the ‘greater Nagalim' demand has been accepted. Details and execution plan within the framework agreement are yet to be released.
Nagaland's neighbours Manipur, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh are opposed to integration of Naga-inhabited areas. Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi accused Modi of “blatantly violating” the spirit of cooperative federalism and parliamentary democracy by not consulting him and his Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur counterparts over such an important matter.
“I doubt whether the Chief Minister of Nagaland has been consulted,” he said while Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Nabam Tuki was of the view that the accord has come as a “surprise” as the Prime Minister “forgot” to contact the Congress chief ministers concerned.
Tuki said that he welcomed the peace process, but this should be done “without compromising territorial integrity” while Gogoi wondered as to why the accord has been kept secret, “if it affects ...states, we will oppose tooth and nail”.
Congress chief spokesman Randeep Surjewala targeted the Modi government for “keeping the three elected state governments in complete dark” with no involvement either in the process of negotiations or finalisation of terms of peace agreement.
Addressing a joint press conference at the Congress headquarters along with the three chief ministers and Congress general secretaries V Narainsamy and C P Joshi, he also hit out at Union minister Nirmala Sitharaman accusing her of deliberately misleading the nation on the issue.
Surjewala alleged that Sitharaman told a “patent lie” that the chief ministers were called for a meeting to discuss the peace agreement, but they refused to come. He said it is “foolhardy” to question wisdom of three seniormost chief ministers of the country.
According to the Manipur chief minister, he called up Home Minister Rajnath Singh and wanted to know about the accord and he said he will give full text, but “we didn't get any till this moment”.
Seeking to show the Modi government in poor light, Gogoi said that over a decade ago the Vajpayee government had consulted the states even on the issue of extention of ceasefire agreement with the Naga insurgent group.
He also took exception to the accord being signed by R N Ravi who has been the interlocutor for the Naga talks and said that it should have been signed either by the Home Minister or the Home Secretary on behalf of the Centre.
Hitting out at Sitharaman, Surjewala said that neither the prime minister nor the government circulated orally or in writing any agenda regarding Naga peace accord to the party chief ministers.
Taking a dig at the Prime Minister, he said that for the first time there was a peace agreement in the history of India which the “Cabinet never discussed it, nor was MHA informed”.
Asked as to what is the future course of action, the chief ministers said that it would be decided only after the Centre releases the details of the agreement.