Nagaland 2018

BJP rejects Zeliang’s overture

T.R. Zeliang. File   | Photo Credit: Shanker Chakravarty

The Bharatiya Janata Party on Monday ruled out the possibility of forging an alliance with the Naga People’s Front (NPF) and said the tie-up with the Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP) would help solve the vexed Naga political issue.

The ‘political issue’ is a term used for finding an honourable end to the peace initiative with Naga extremist groups, primarily the Isak-Muivah faction of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland, started 21 years ago.

Last-ditch effort

The BJP took this stand as Chief Minister T.R. Zeliang made a last-ditch effort to meet BJP president Amit Shah for a possible deal to share power. Both the NPF and the NDPP-BJP combine are short of the majority mark of 31 in the 60-member House.

The NDPP-BJP as well as the NPF had on Sunday met Governor P.B. Acharya, staking claim to form the government. Mr. Acharya set them a 48-hour deadline to get the signatures of at least 31 MLAs to justify their claim.

“We have decided not to have any truck with the NPF any more and have advised Mr. Zeliang to resign because Mr. Rio is a widely accepted leader. There can be a solution to the Naga political problem only if Mr. Rio is in Nagaland and (Prime Minister) Narendra Modi in Delhi,” Assam Health and Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, who held a meeting with the 12 newly-elected BJP legislators in Dimapur, told newspersons.

In that meeting, also attended by Union Health Minister J.P. Nadda, Y. Patton was unanimously elected as the BJP Legislature Party leader.

To meet Governor

Mr. Sarma said all the BJP leaders will meet the Governor on Tuesday with a letter in favour of the formation of an NDPP-BJP government under the leadership of Mr. Rio as chief ministerial candidate.

“The decision to honour our pre-poll alliance with the NDPP, will in no way affect the BJP’s alliance with the NPF in Manipur. This is because the Manipur unit of the NPF is registered as a separate entity,” he added.

The current political drama in Nagaland and the tug-of-war between the two regional parties with the BJP, is the outcome of a clash of power centres and two former chief ministers — Mr. Zeliang and Mr. Rio — that have joined forces and fallen apart in their bids to head the State in recent years.

No one had defied the Naga rebels and ruled Nagaland with as much authority as S.C. Jamir until his protege, Mr. Rio, replaced him as Chief Minister in 2003. Mr. Jamir had been Chief Minister of the State for more than 15 years.

Mr. Rio and Kewekhape Therie, now the chief of the Nagaland unit of the Congress, fell out with Mr. Jamir and went on to revive a regional party, renaming it the Naga People’s Front. But the friendship did not last and Mr. Therie quit the party to return to the Congress.

There was no room for a second rung in the NPF as long as Mr. Rio held control. His decision to become a Member of Parliament after 11 years as CM, however, opened a window of opportunity for others.

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Printable version | Feb 25, 2021 2:33:29 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/elections/nagaland-2018/bjp-rejects-zeliangs-overture/article22936441.ece

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