Sushanta Talukdar

  • "Nagas want to be under one administrative unit" "Peace talks delayed for lack of sincerity on the part of Government"

    SENAPATI (Manipur): A day after Congress president Sonia Gandhi reiterated her party's commitment to protect the territorial integrity of Manipur, this Naga-dominated hill town witnessed a vigorous campaign by the United Naga Council (UNC) for the victory of 11 independents backed by it so that they can take up the cause of "integration of Naga-inhabited areas of Manipur with Nagaland."

    "The Naga ancestral land does not belong to the Congress or any other party. The land belongs to us and we will decide what to do with it. Nobody can impose his or her decision on the desire of the Nagas to come under one administrative unit. Congress president Sonia Gandhi's statement was just a political gimmick. Such an irresponsible statement only exposed the lack of sincerity on the part of Government of India, due to which the peace negotiation with the National Socialist Council of Nagalim (Isak-Muivah) has been delayed," UNC president Paul Leo said.

    Tuesday was the last day of electioneering for the first phase of the Assembly polls.

    The campaign in the hill constituencies, particularly the 11 dominated by Nagas, centres round the single agenda of "Naga integration."

    Of these 11, three in Senapati district Mao, Tadubi and Karong and three in Ukhurul district, which has the ancestral village of NSCN (I-M) general secretary Thuingaleng Muivah, are going to the polls on Thursday. Elections in the remaining five three in Tamenglong and two in Chandel district will be held in the third phase on February 23.

    The UNC shortlisted 11 from among 61candidates, who had signed an undertaking here on January 16 to take up the cause of Naga integration in the Assembly. This was because the Naga representatives elected in 2002 failed to perform their duty, the UNC president told The Hindu.

    UNC leaders' appeal

    The UNC leaders along with the candidates went round villages, appealing to the tribal councils, Hohos, churches, women, youth and student organisations to ensure that "this election reflects the wish of the Naga people to live together with their Naga brethren, and not fall victim to party politics or forces inimical to the Naga aspirations."