Grouping adopts resolution seeking a fresh look into Centre-State relations in the true spirit of federalism

Ten regional political parties in the north-east on Sunday resolved to form a new political front — the North-East Regional Political Front (NERPF) — to work together for safeguarding “territorial, cultural, social, political and economic rights of the people of the region and to continuously strive to protect the distinctive identifies of the ethnic tribes and of all the people of the region.”

A meeting of these regional parties — held here under the aegis of the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) — elected Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio as the convener and former Assam Chief Minister and AGP president Prafulla Kumar Mahanta the front’s chief adviser. The constituent parties have four representatives each in the NERPF.

Mr. Mahanta and Mr. Rio, in the presence of other leaders from the 10 parties, announced the formation of the new political front, which Mr. Rio told journalists, would have its permanent office in Guwahati. The first meeting of the NERPF will be held in Kohima while the front plans to hold a rally in Guwahati in January.

The meeting adopted 17 resolutions, including a resolution seeking a fresh look into the issue of Centre-State relations in the true spirit of federalism. It demanded a comprehensive amendment of the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution with devolution of powers to States in every matter, except those pertaining to defence, external relations, currency and external trade. The NERPF also demanded the scrapping of the concurrent list and transfer of all the subjects in it to the State list.

Expressing concern over “continued incursion by China into Arunachal Pradesh,” the NERPF called upon the Centre to take up the matter immediately with China and prevent “any future incursion.”

“The regional parties express serious concern at the actions of the Government of China to build massive dams in the upper reaches of the Brahmaputra and attempts to divert the river. The Brahmaputra is the lifeline of the NE region and any attempt to interfere with the natural flow of the river should be considered as an act of aggression. The regional parties condemn the lack of seriousness on the part of Government of India and asks the Government to take the strongest possible steps to stop the designs of the Chinese government against the NE region,” stated another resolution adopted at the meeting.

The Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act also featured among the resolutions adopted. The front called for a halt to its use in all forms in the north-east, and, among other things, urged the Centre to immediately enter into a treaty with Bangladesh “to deport all the infiltrators from the NE region” and cancel the land swap deal with it. Eighty per cent reservation for “sons of the soil” in all Central, semi-central, public sector and private sector jobs in the region, implementation of the Look East Policy in letter and spirit, rebuilding of the portion of the historic Stilwell Road in India were the other resolutions adopted by the NERPF.

Asked if the front would maintain equal distance from both the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party, Mr. Rio said: “It can be equidistance or equi-closeness.” To a question, he said that the front constituents would sit down and discuss the 2014 Lok Sabha poll apart from other issues.

The NERPF alleged that the Electronic Voting Machines were not foolproof and demanded that either the use of EVMs be abolished or that the EVM be supported with paper slips in all elections.

The 10 parties, which took part in the meeting, were the Asom Gana Parishad, the Naga People’s Front — the ruling party in Nagaland — the United Democratic Party and the Hill State People’s Democratic Party of Meghalaya, the Manipur People’s Party, the Manipur State Congress Party, the Manipur Democratic People’s Front, the Mizo National Front, the People’s Party of Arunachal and the Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura (IPFT). Among those present were the former Meghalaya Chief Minister Donkupar Roy.

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