Interview with Charenamei: Sincerity without political will . . . is meaningless
NTIMES 12 Oct: He is a Leader, Friend, and Uncle to many of us, a well-known political figure and yet who remains a humble man. Ladies and Gentlemen, we bring you Mr. Mani Charenamei, former Member of Parliament (Lok Sabha) representing the Outer Manipur Constituency. Here are his insights shared with NagalimTimes (NT) members.
NT: Good Evening! Sir
Charenamei: Good evening everyone
NT: How often do you visit NT group and how do you like it?
Charenamei: I do visit NT regularly and I like it.
NT: What do you think of all those issues and topics we discuss in social networking sites or groups like ours? Do they have any impact outside the virtual world?
Charenamei: The topics and Issues discussed in Nagalim Times are highly educative and enlightening. Topics pertaining to Naga Political issue are quite relevant to our present society and the divergent opinions expressed by various learned members has been very helpful in making many visitors to understand the Naga issue in perspective.
NT: You were a high ranking Forest Officer before coming into active politic, what prompted you to join politics?
Charenamei: I truly love my forester job, it has been my passion to work in the Forest department and I like to take up the challenges of protecting the rich biodiversity of our forest and I still consider myself as a forester till today.
In my life’s journey as a student activist and as a forester I came across different kinds of untold hardships and sufferings the Naga people in particular and tribal people in general were facing while trying to cope with the meagre needs of their daily lives. On top of innumerable sufferings and abject poverty the Naga people have been suffering from untold hardships and humiliation in the hands of the insensitive administrators and the unruly Security forces. I also had a strong desire to help the government to solve insurgency in the North Eastern Region by highlighting the genuine grievances of various ethnic groups of the state in the Parliament and in other appropriate places to draw the attention of the concerned authorities for speedy redressal of their problems. I also strongly felt that Naga political leaders should not alienate the Naga Underground Workers just because they rebel against the Nation but should have a heart to understand them otherwise our leadership can be questioned by the people. My passion to help the poor and the weak had actually prompted me to join politics
NT: Do you think the Naga Youths need to involve more into politics?
Charenamei: I think sincere and committed youths should join politics however they should be aware that there will be temptations, hardships, insult and humiliations galore as they take up political struggles. However there is no greater sacrifice than working for the people who are in need of justice and protection.
NT: We have discussed and deliberated much about the Naga political issues in this group (NT) yet we are still without any substantial clue or information. Can you update us about the ongoing Indo-Naga talks?
Charenamei: Nagas are living in a sophisticated age and the number of intellectuals has increased many folds. Therefore, when we discuss, analyse and debate on issues pertaining to social, political or economic issues concerning Naga people vis-à-vis ever changing surrounding scenario, it is always better to substantiate and contextualise our issues with facts and figures.
As I am not a party to any of the Negotiating teams, I am not in a position to throw much light on the status and progress of the ongoing Indo- Naga Peace Talks. However, as per statements issued by both the Indian Leadership and the NSCN (IM) from time to time, I can safely say that Peace Talk is heading towards an honourable solution.
NT: What kind of solution do you foresee and when?
Charenamei: It is difficult to predict anything on the outcome of the Peace Talk and likely date of Signing Peace Accord now. But, I am hopeful that if settlement is brought to the decades old political problems, Nagas will be able live with dignity and honour as an individual and as a people.
NT: Do you think the GOI is sincerely working on bringing about a solution to the decades old Naga Political issue?
Charenamei: I believe that Govt. of India has been sincere and is sincere till today. But sincerity without political will to solve the Naga issue is meaningless.
NT: Don’t you think the frequent shuffle in the Ministry of Home Affairs for GOI is affecting the flow of talks?
Charenamei: Frequent change of Home Minister should not hamper the Peace Talk but what matter is, we need a Minister who can take political decision and who can take responsibility.
NT: We still vividly remember you spearheading and taking part in the rallies for Naga Integration. How much have we achieved on that?
Charenamei: The desire to live as a people by integrating our lands which is the common aspiration of the Naga people upheld by the Naga Hoho, UNC, Nagaland State Assembly and all the national and regional political parties functioning in the state. I, on my part as a Naga, always felt that it is my bounden duty to support the Naga cause. My main mission as a member of parliament was to sensitise the Indian Parliament about the legitimate aspiration of our people to live under one administration and to highlight pertinent issues concerning the political, economic and social rights of the Naga people.
The demand for Naga Integration is not negotiable and the right to live together is the highest goal of the Naga people. The essence of our political struggle lies in the integration of our land and people. The fight for integration of our land and people has to continue with much vigour and must be pursued by the Naga public themselves till it is achieved. If our Land and People are integrated we will gain many political dividends.
The issue has been brought to the knowledge of the parliament in the form of parliamentary question and by raising the issue during discussions under various rules, by way of submitting memorandums to all the Ministers, MPs of both the houses both in English and Hindi version to sensitise the Naga Integration issue. The leader of the house of the ruling Congress party was forced to withdraw the infamous clause of the Common Minimum Program which said that the territorial boundary of the North Eastern state will not be changed. I think our issue is very genuine and legitimate in the context of the Indian Constitution and in the context of the criteria taken into account while creating several states under Indian union since Independence.
NT: Please tell us, what is Alternative Arrangement (AA) as demanded by United Naga Council (UNC)?
Charenamei: The demand for Alternative Arrangement by the UNC, apex Naga body in Manipur, as I understand is a demand to the Central Government to make alternative arrangement for the Nagas of Manipur outside the control of Manipur govt. even as final solution is being hammered out, because the Chief Minister and his council of ministers has failed to recognise the existence and the sufferings of the Naga people. The Chief Minister of Manipur has acted in contravention to the Constitution of India by deliberately dishonouring the provision of the article no.3 and 4 of the Indian Constitution. The Govt. of Manipur deliberately undermined the Peace Settlement initiated by Govt. of India for bringing about lasting peace in the insurgency affected Naga areas of North East Region of India. In 1964 the then Chief Minister of Manipur, Mr. M. Koireng Singh welcomed the extension of Cease fire operation to 4 Naga dominated districts of Manipur though it was opposed by the then State Congress President. But Govt. of Manipur, under the influence of the Valley people blocked the peaceful visit of Mr Th. Muivah, Gen. Secretary, NSCN (IM) to his native village by using the state security forces resulting in the death of two innocent students. Having seen and experienced the undemocratic, immature, arrogant and high handed attitude of Manipur Government and the lack of political will on the part of Govt. of India to right the wrong, Nagas have been compelled to say ‘Enough is Enough’ and started the movement for Alternative Arrangement for the Nagas of Manipur till final solution to the Naga political problem is found.
NT: What do you say about the demand for Frontier Nagaland by the Eastern Naga People Organization (ENPO)?
Charenamei: Underdevelopment of any region or area due to deliberate negligence of the state is wrong. All out effort should be given to bring the neglected region at par with the developed areas by providing additional funds. We Nagas should remember that the Nagas of Naga Hills district and Mon -Tuensang area of erstwhile NEFA were integrated to form the present Nagaland state with the sole aim to empower the Naga people with political power so that they can take decision on their own for their betterment and development. As we are one people, our State Executives should be sensitive to the needs and aspirations of all the tribal communities of the state and they (Authorities) should not withhold or delay justice to the most genuine need of the people. And I think, our developmental issues should not be the main basis for demanding a separate state because it will weaken the process to form a stronger and consolidated federal political unit. Therefore my humble appeal to the leaders of ENPO is to have a second thought on their demand for a separate state because the Naga people under the aegis of Naga Hoho have decided to work for an integrated Naga homeland. The aspiration of the Naga people has been upheld by four successive historic resolutions of Nagaland State Assembly to bring the contiguous Naga Area under one administrative umbrella. And we should be also reminded that creation of Nagaland state in the sixties was a classic case of partial Naga Integration.
NT: Sir, your loss in the last election was unfortunate and it’s considered a major drawback in solving the Naga political issues by many. Any comment?
Charenamei: If every Naga is thinking on that line it is good. Here, I wanted to add that my main role as Member of Parliament was to sensitise the parliament about the seriousness of the Naga problems and to pressurise the Govt of India through the Parliament to find amicable solution to the vexed Naga issue so that hostilities against one another will be brought to an end and so that the Naga people may be able to live in peace, with dignity and honour like other people in rest of the country. I also considered myself as an ambassador of Peace to the Parliament of India. In fact, sending a Naga MP to the Indian parliament with people’s mandate itself is a clear message that the Nagas want to live in peace.
If we seriously think that we should have an MP to highlight our various problems in the Parliament we should not repeat the same mistake again because we cannot afford to put our people’s future at stake.
NT: Your advice or suggestion to the bloggers and also to the group.
Charenamei: My humble advice to the NT group and bloggers is not to use the social networking sites for venting personal feelings against friends and to criticise your opponents by using un-parliamentary words. But use the site for disseminating important information and for spreading awareness among the bloggers and other visitors. Always post only authentic information and avoid spreading unconfirmed news.
NT: Thank you very much for your time, Sir. We look forward to hear more from you.
Charenamei: My sincere thanks to the Admins of NT and all the readers.