BJP clarifies on Naga peace accord after government accused of secrecytext_fields
New Delhi: In the line of opposition fire for allegedly keeping the nation in the dark about the Naga peace accord, the BJP on Saturday said the Centre had taken the Nagaland chief minister onboard while firming up the accord and assured that it will not impinge on the interests of states bordering Nagaland.
Manipur Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh on Saturday called on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Rajnath Singh here, and sought a copy of the accord signed between the central government and the National Socialist Council of Nagaland-Isak-Muivah (NSCN-IM) on August 3.
The Congress has accused the Bharatiya Janata Party-led central government of signing the peace accord without taking any stakeholder into confidence, and overlooking the Constitution in doing so.
BJP leader and union minister Nirmala Sitharaman said Nagaland Chief Minister T.R. Zeliang was kept in the loop and had met Modi two days before the accord was inked.
"The chief minister has been continuously in dialogue with the prime minister and he met him even today (Saturday)," she said.
Zeliang on Saturday met Modi and said that states bordering Nagaland need not worry about their territory, but added that the content of the peace accord was not yet out.
"I also do not know anything about the accord. There is a need for the government to solve the Naga issue and it is doing it steadily," Zeliang told a TV channel after meeting Modi.
He said he will meet Naga peace talks interlocuter R.N. Ravi on August 16 over the issue.
In Guwahati, union Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju accused the chief ministers of the Congress-ruled states of Assam, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh of having initially welcomed the peace accord and later backtracking.
"The chief ministers are making contradictory statements on the direction of (Congress chief) Sonia Gandhi which was not a good sign," Rijiju said and appealed to the Congress not to politicise the issue.
Rijiju said the security scenario has improved in the northeast but it needs to be improved further.
"The central government wants to develop the region as a commercial hub with its neighbours and improved security scenario is a prerequisite for this. This peace accord will help improve the security scenario in the region further," he said.
The three northeastern states bordering Nagaland on Friday accused Modi of not consulting them.
Manipur Chief Minister Ibobi Singh on Saturday called on Modi at his 7, Race Course Road residence in Delhi. The prime minister assured the Manipur chief minister that everything would be discussed with the states concerned before the accord is finalised.
Ibobi Singh then met Rajnath Singh at his residence at 17, Akbar Road. He sought a copy of the peace accord, saying the people of Manipur were anxious to know its details and had apprehensions that it would affect the territorial integrity of the state.
Rajnath Singh assured Ibobi Singh that the accord was just a framework and that it would not affect the territorial boundary of the neighbouring states.
He said the central government would invite the states for discussion while working out the final shape of the accord.
R.N. Ravi, the central government's interlocutor for the Naga peace talks, was present during the meeting.
On Friday, Congress spokesman Randeep Surjewala, addressing a press conference attended by the chief ministers of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur, said Modi "ignored the basic principal of cooperative federalism (by signing the accord on his own)".
He said Modi did not even consult any of the three seniormost chief ministers -- Tarun Gogoi of Assam, Nabam Tuki of Arunachal Pradesh and Ibobi Singh of Manipur.
Surjewala termed the government's contention that it had consulted Gogoi, Tuki and Ibobi Singh on the accord as "a blatant lie".
The three chief ministers have declared that they will not cede an inch of land for the accord.
One of the NSCN-IM's most contentious demand has been the creation of Nagalim or Greater Nagaland comprising all Naga-inhabited areas of the northeast, which according to officials, had been "set aside for now".