Kohima, June 2: Nagaland chief minister Neiphiu Rio will meet Union home minister P. Chidambaram on Monday to discuss the demand for a Frontier Nagaland state.
Sources said Chidambaram has invited Rio and his cabinet ministers along with senior leaders of the Eastern Nagaland People’s Organisation (ENPO) in his official chamber at 9.30am to discuss the issue.
The sources said Rio was unlikely to agree to a Frontier Nagaland state being carved out of Nagaland but would ask for more funds for development of the four districts.
The meeting comes against the backdrop of the four backward districts of Nagaland — Kiphire, Tuensang, Longleng and Mon — intensifying their demand for a separate state. The ENPO has written several letters to the Centre, including a memorandum to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, demanding Frontier Nagaland on the ground that the state government has been neglecting them for years. But the Centre has passed the buck to the state government, saying its consent was required on the issue.
A source, however, said the Centre has rejected the demand for a separate state. He said the Naga People’s Front-led government had offered autonomous council to the four districts but the ENPO had rejected the proposal. The ENPO is firm despite the state government and Naga organisations repeatedly requesting it to withdraw the demand.
Chingwang Konyak, a senior Congress legislator and former Lok Sabha MP, said Chidambaram had written to Rio, inviting him to discuss the issue on Monday. He said the meeting would discuss the memorandum submitted to the Prime Minister by the ENPO.
Konyak, who was leader of the Congress Legislature Party till last year and supports the ENPO’s demand, said all 20 legislators from the four backward districts had expressed their support to the ENPO as they were people’s representatives and the ENPO’s demand was a people’s movement. He said the four districts were 100 years behind other Naga communities because of negligence by successive state governments.
While the Opposition Congress has blamed the NPF government for the imbroglio, the BJP has promised to grant Frontier Nagaland to ENPO if the party is elected to power in the 2014 parliamentary elections. While the ENPO is in an upbeat mood since BJP president Nitin Gadkari’s May 14 statement, political parties and organisations in Nagaland have criticised the announcement as a means to gain political mileage as Nagaland will go to the polls early next year.
The cabinet ministers who will accompany Rio are M.C. Konyak, P. Longon and Pangnyu Phom from the ENPO area, home minister Imkong L. Imchen and health minister Khuzoluzho Nienu. The Congress legislators accompanying him from the area include Chingwang Konyak and H. Chuba Chang.