EDITORIAL: Collision Course

The tough stand adopted by the United Naga Council, Manipur against the demand put up by the Phungyar District Demand Committee, that Phungyar Assembly Constituency comprising four sub-divisions of Ukhrul district be segregated from its parent unit and upgrade it to a full-fledged district, is an indicator of how serious the matter has been viewed by the people who have the clout and influence in ‘Naga politics’. It is something of an irony that a civil society organization, like the UNC, should deem it fit to speak out so vocally against the creation of a district and fire at an imagined target from the shoulders of those who are championing the creation of Phungyar AC as a district. “It is implicit that the demand for new district (s) at this point of time is the handiwork of the adversaries to vitiate and derail the Alternative Arrangement process which is in progress peacefully and democratically.” There is nothing implicit in this very statement but everything is loud and clear and that is the UNC is aiming at an unnamed but obvious target and this is where something is terribly wrong, especially as such insinuations have the potential to bury the real issue at hand, which is the creation of a new district or not.

Indira Gandhi perfected the art of the “foreign hand” ploy whenever faced with any internal crisis and her son Rajiv Gandhi too tried the same thing when Bofors and Fairfax started making news and VP Singh was about to be sacked as the Union Defense Minister. Call it diversionary tactics or whipping up a non-existent issue but the policy conjured up and carefully crafted into a near perfect art by the late Indira Gandhi has been adopted with local adjustments by a number of civil society organizations in the North East and across India, if we may add. Not surprisingly such tactics are almost always aimed at the gallery, to emotionally sway the public and to speak to their hearts rather than their heads and it is usually quite effective, though it cannot stand the test of time.

The UNC has justified its stand on the ground that the Naga Convention held at Senapati last year sometime in the summer, had decided to sever all ties with the State Government and had approached the Centre to work out alternative arrangements for the Nagas of Manipur. The December tripartite talk held at Senapati last year, wherein representatives from Delhi turned up, was cited as an example of the Alternative process underway. Whether one agrees with the stand of the UNC or not is a different matter, but it stands true that questions may well be raised, why the UNC should drag in the unnamed and unsaid “Adversaries” in their argument against the transformation of Phungyar AC as a full-fledged district. It is not for us, including the UNC, to decide whether the status of a district should be granted to a particular area or not and such matters are best left to the Government of the day. Moreover there are reasons, other than ethnicity, that have to be taken into consideration while creating an administrative unit. The UNC has made its stand clear and in doing so, it has advertently or inadvertently fired the first salvo at an imagined target.

On the other hand, the representative from Phungyar Assembly Constituency, Wungnaoshang Keishing is leading and guiding the Phungyar District Demand Committee as its Convener and it would be blasphemy to even think or entertain the idea that he would have any agenda to sup with the “Adversaries”, which the UNC had mentioned but not named. It also serves a purpose if only we care to remember that this is the second consecutive time that Wungnaoshang has been elected by the people of Phungyar, or can we expect some fantastical stories, that he was in fact not elected, but nominated? Any demand or issue will always have more than one story to tell and the same is the case with the demand raised to transform Phungyar AC into a full-fledged district. While those who oppose it, like the UNC, may interpret this demand as unreasonable and impractical, the Phungyar District Demand Committee on the other hand is under the impression that it would do them good, if the four sub-divisions falling within this AC, were to be clubbed under one full fledged district. No party can claim the absolute truth and no one has the right to self appoint themselves as the speakers or representatives of a group of people. This must be kept in mind while addressing the demand raised to transform Phungyar AC into a district as well as the opposition to it.

Given the atmosphere of suspicion and the communally sensitive political climate in Manipur right now, it would be foolhardy to point the finger of accusation at anyone. Why talk about the involvement of a third party, instead of coming out with some tangible reasons for opposing the creation of a district? It is imperative that all view the issue without any biases or preconceived notions. No one has opposed the Naga Convention at Senapati held last year and the far reaching decision taken to sever all ties with the Government of Manipur. It is an issue involving the State Government, the UNC and other Naga civil society organizations of Manipur and the Centre and it does not concern anyone, especially along ethnic lines. For that matter, despite the decision of the Senapati Convention, many distinguished Naga personalities have made Imphal their home and many more are in the service of the State Government as well as making a living out of doing contract and supply works. This is the fact, without a hint of adulteration and this is the very reason, why anyone cannot justify their stand by pointing fingers at some unnamed but understood “Adversaries” in an issue which does not concern the general public at all.

(Courtesy: The Sangai Express)

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