Dr Manmohan Singh avoids saying Naga integration issue at Kohima
Source: Oken Jeet Sandham - (NEPS)

Kohima, February 27: Sensing the sensitivity of the nature of the Naga integration issue, the Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh has tactfully avoided mentioning about the contentious point (Naga integration issue) while addressing a mammoth Congress Party election rally here at Kohima Local Ground on Tuesday.

He however assured the people of Nagaland that the Congress Party would do �whatever is required to address all the genuine aspirations of the Naga people�.

It may be mentioned that the election manifesto of the Nagaland Pradesh Congress Committee (NPCC) that said the �Indian National Congress in Nagaland will continue to urge upon the Government of India the need to implement the 16-Point Agreement of 1960 in letter and spirit,� had already created furor in neighboring Manipur demanding even to the extent of removing the text from the �manifesto�.

Dwelling mostly on the ongoing peace process, the Prime Minister said his Government had been engaged in a �purposeful dialogue� with disaffected groups to try and bring a �long lasting peace to Nagaland.� �We have been open and liberal in our approach and are hopeful that we will succeed in our efforts for an honorable solution,� he said adding, �We are wiling to go the extra mile for this purpose�.

Stating that the people of Nagaland were fed up with violence, Dr Singh maintained that the people wanted to be part of the overall process of development and change.

The people wanted to benefit from the new opportunities being created, as their economy moved forward, he said.

�Nagaland needs an era of peace and stability so that Naga people can devote all their energies to their cultural, educational, social and economic development,� he pointed out.

Telling the people that he would like them to live a life of �dignity, a life of self-respect, a life of prosperity and peace and a life of greater creativity and enterprise, the Prime Minister further assured that the Congress party would do whatever was required to address all the �genuine aspirations of the Naga people�.

Reminding the people of Nagaland as to how the Congress Party from the days of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru had special affection for them, Dr Singh said it was Nehru who had the foresight to recognize the �distinct identity of the Naga people and gave statehood to Nagaland.� �Nehruji wanted Nagas to maintain their distinct identity and genius,� he added.

Later, under the inspiring leadership of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, Nagaland saw a new era of development.

She and later, Rajiv Gandhi were deeply committed to the welfare, the well-being and the empowerment of the people of Nagaland.

�It is this proud tradition of abiding commitment to Nagaland�s development, to peace and security for every person in this state that we continue today in the Congress Party, under the inspiring leadership of our party president, Sonia Gandhi,� the Prime Minister narrated.

Urging the people of Nagaland to strengthen their hands and Sonia Gandhi�s as well to vote for the Party (Congress) and to vote for peace and prosperity in Nagaland, Dr Singh expressed belief that the future for the State was with the Congress party..