Shillong, Aug. 10: Tura Lok Sabha MP P.A. Sangma has mooted the idea of a “grand federation” of northeastern tribes and a northeastern commission, on the lines of the European Commission, to give recognition to all the communities in the region.
Sangma said there was no concept of “statehood” in the Northeast.
This point of view, he said, was based on his “experience” which is over four-decade-old now. He was first elected to Parliament in 1977.
“I have seen India; I have thoroughly understood the Northeast situation. In the Northeast, there is no concept of statehood. We are forcing people to live together,” Sangma told journalists here. His reply was in connection with the demand for a separate state of Garoland.
In Meghalaya, militant groups and some political parties have been demanding the bifurcation of the state into Garoland and Khasi-Jaintia state.
Likewise, similar instances have been heard in Assam, Manipur and Nagaland where ethnic groups have come out to demand separate states.
The diversity of the region, complicated and confronted by multi-faceted problems, can be comprehended from the fact there are over 200 ethnic communities and an equal number of dialects in the region.
Based on the region’s diversity, the veteran parliamentarian said his idea was to have a “grand federation” of the Northeast communities, where each community would have autonomy.
From the federation, he said a “grand Assembly or Parliament” would be created where each community would have a representative.
“That is the only way you can give due recognition to all the tribes in the Northeast. It is broad thinking, and I have just started selling this idea,” he said. Moreover, Sangma said the current North Eastern Council (NEC) should be converted into a northeastern commission on the lines of the European Commission.
The European Commission is the executive body of the European Union. It is accountable for proposing legislation, implementing decisions, and upholding the Union’s treaties besides looking after the day-to-day running of the European Union. The commission operates as a cabinet government.
If, hypothetically, the NEC were ever transformed into a commission, it would work like the European Commission. At present, the council is run by bureaucrats. The commission would exercise more power than the council.
The NEC is mandated with formulating proposals for a balanced development of the region particularly with regard to a regional plan, which will be in addition to the state plan, for matters of common importance. It prioritises projects and schemes included in the regional plan and moves the Centre for its approval. It also recommends the manner in which a project, involving more than one state, is to be executed and managed and its benefits shared.
It was in 1971 that the Centre created the NEC to boost the region’s development. Not only that, the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government under the leadership of Atal Bihari Vajpayee created the DoNER ministry in September 2001.
Giving a picture of the diverse and complex nature of the Northeast, he said in Arunachal Pradesh, two communities have been fighting for centuries but have been living together because they happen to be residing in the same state. “For the people of Nagaland, the moment they cross Dimapur and come to Shillong, Guwahati, New Delhi, Calcutta, they are Nagas. But the moment they go back to Dimapur they are not Nagas, but Lothas, Angamis, Maos and so on. That is the situation,” he said.
“So, we have to realise the reality, and by experience, we have to think of something else. This is a thought process and I have a big plan, which I am discussing with the leaders of the Northeast.”