It is up to Chief Minister of Manipur N Biren Singh and his Nagaland counterpart Dr Shurhozelie Liezietsu to make their first meeting at Imphal on May 9 more than a ‘courtesy call.’ The call is also in line with the fact that the NPF, which is heading the Government in Nagaland is a partner in the BJP led Government in Manipur and also fits in well in with the new approach adopted by Chief Minister N Biren Singh to reach out to the hill districts, more particularly the hill people. One only hopes and pray that the feel good factor in the hill valley relationship is not reduced to a trailer but is taken to a bigger canvass. This is a welcome departure from the time when former Chief Minister of Nagaland, TR Zeliang was seen or portrayed to be seen as someone unnecessarily poking his nose into the internal affairs of Manipur. Just remember his address to the people during the Lui-Ngai-Ni festival at Ukhrul last year when TR Zeliang was seen to be overly critical of the three Bills passed by the State Assembly in 2015. Also remember the time when he attended a Naga public meeting somewhere near Kangpokpi district in the then undivided Senapati district some time back and he was seen to be making statements inimical to the interest of Manipur. In fact the real or factual reflection of the deep distrust between the two neighbouring States could be seen when former MLA from Keishamthong Constituency L Ibomcha filed an FIR against TR Zeliang for his address at the Lui-Ngai-Ni festival at Ukhrul. Fortunately the ugly stand offs of the past seem to have been given the quiet burial and it is against this backdrop that the decision of the Nagaland Chief Minister to pay a ‘courtesy call’ to Chief Minister N Biren Singh should be seen.
It was also in the fitness of things for the State Government to declare Liezietsu and his team as State Guests during their stay in Manipur. This is a welcome change and with the Governments of the two neighbouring States shaking hands and agreeing to work for ‘better ties’ between Nagaland and Manipur, it is also right that the people from the two States take the new gesture to a higher plane. And obviously the first step should be to ensure better ties between the people of the hill districts and the valley. This is where one to one contact becomes indispensable and civil society organisations on either side need to step forward and see how to take the new initiative to greater heights. For too long the divide between the hills and the valley has been allowed to fester and it is this divide which has been posing a grave threat to the very idea of Manipur as a geo-political entity. The Governments of the two neighbouring States seem to have woken up to the need to foster better ties between them and it is only right that the people on either side reciprocate and see how they can make the new initiative more meaningful. One cannot choose one’s neighbour and the right way forward should be to move closer together. Liezietsu and Biren seem to be working towards this and it should be the bounden duty of all to make this meaningful.
Source: The Sangai Express