Union Home Minister P Chidambaram has ‘frankly’ told leaders of the government of Nagaland that creating a separate State out of Nagaland is not ‘viable’ at all. Instead, the Home minister has advised the State’s government to start undertaking initiatives to develop the eastern areas of Nagaland for which the Planning Commission of India would be more than ‘happy’ to offer special dispensations.
Chidambaram met with Chief Minister of Nagaland Neiphiu Rio, Nagaland’s Home Minister Imkong Imchen and a host of other Naga legislators, including opposition Congress leaders and those representing the eastern electorate, on Monday, June 4 in New Delhi. The Union Home Minister had invited the Naga leaders to discuss the demand of a separate State as raised by a local organization, the Eastern Naga People’s Organization (ENPO).
The meeting threw up a number of interesting perspectives from the Government of India concerning the idea of creating a new, separate State out of Nagaland. For instance Naga leaders in New Delhi quoted Chidambaram as saying that something as burdensome as creating a new State cannot be demanded simply on grounds of development deficit.
Nagaland’s Home Minister Imkong Imchen and Chief Secretary of Nagaland Lalthara who are in New Delhi, engaged in a brief interaction with The Morung Express Monday evening. The Naga delegation met with the Home Minister and other officials from the ministry around 9:00 AM and an hour of discussions followed.
Imkong Imchen said the discussion was a “very frank” affair. The government of India isn’t ready to consider the ENPO’s demand for a separate State, he said. ‘No, the Central government has said it (separate State) is not a viable consideration at all. The Central government is not ready to consider such a demand as it is not feasible,’ the minister explained. Imchen offered no further details.
Chief Secretary of Nagaland Lalthara was also in the New Delhi meeting.
The official disclosed that the Home Minister made clear that the issue is purely ‘internal in nature’ which the Nagaland government must resolve and not the Centre. “He (Chidambaram) told us that at this stage, creating a separate State out of a State is not in their consideration. He mentioned the other demands for separate state like the Telangana, Garo etc…” Lalthara said.
“He told us that development deficit is the issue here and so there has to be some kind of a social effort to resolve the matter. Merely on the ground of less development a State cannot be created,” the official said quoting Chidambaram.
Chidambaram is reported to have told the Naga leaders that “there has to be a certain principle of demand.” For instance – Lalthara said quoting the Union Home Minister – the Gorkha people have a definite territory and are culturally and socially “but even them we can’t give them (a separate State).”
“So he has referred the matter back to the Nagaland government saying that the matter is not in consideration of the Centre at this stage. So we told him why not give us development help for the eastern areas. Then the Home Minister said ‘we can provide and discuss the matter with the Planning Commission of India for development. He said the Government of India is willing to help with developing the eastern areas,’” Lalthara said.
At the time of filing this news report the Union Home Ministry’s Office was yet to issue official updates concerning the discussions. However, sources said that an official statement to the Media may be expected later on, or if not, a press conference. Likewise, the Nagaland Chief Minister’s Office was not available for comment. The Nagaland government leaders are to return on Wednesday.