A top leader of the Naga separatist group, NSCN (IM) that has been in negotiations with the government for nearly a decade is expected to arrive in Delhi late on Wednesday evening.
NSCN (IM) General Secretary, Thuingaleng Muivah, had last come to India in December 2004 when he had held a string of meetings with Indian political leaders beginning with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. That visit had put the peace talks on the fast track; Singh had appointed a group of ministers led by Oscar Fernandes to raise the level and pace of the talks.
Manmohan Singh had then spoken of his government's preparedness to go to any length to find a peaceful solution and work out a pattern of relationship "with a spirit of give and take".
NSCN (IM) chairman Isak Chishi Swu will join Muivah in early January K Padmanabhaiah – who has been negotiating with the NSCN (IM) leadership for years – told Hindustan Times: "They (NSCN leaders) have told us that they want to consult their people as the talks have reached a certain stage".
At the last round of talks earlier in December, the two sides had agreed to meet in early 2007. Government sources had earlier hinted that both sides had broadly discussed the limits of flexibility within the Constitution and whether a "sub-national constitution" could be accommodated within it; there were no agreements then.
The government does not seem to have a date in mind for the next round of talks. This would also depend on a host of factors including the assembly elections in four states. Manipur, which has a sizeable Naga population, would be one of them.
There were reports quoting NSCN (IM) spokesman Karaibo Chawang that the two leaders were on a "political mission" at the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s invitation for direct talks. But senior NSCN (IM) leader Punthing Shimrang insisted that the programmes were yet to be firmed up.