Nagaland 2018

BJP’s Nagaland worry: ‘new’ and ‘old’ friends

Neiphiu Rio, NDPP leader and former CM

Neiphiu Rio, NDPP leader and former CM  

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Party may form government with the NDPP

Nagaland’s voters have not given a clear mandate, but the BJP appears on course to form a coalition government with a new regional partner, the Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP).

For the first time in Nagaland’s political history, the electoral battle was between two regional parties — the ruling Naga People’s Front (NPF) and its breakaway NDPP.

The BJP was a constituent of an alliance government that the NPF headed since 2003. But the BJP, while inking a pre-poll deal with the NDPP, kept its options open for a possible alliance with “old friends”.

11 seats in kitty

On Saturday, the BJP defied the tag of a ‘Hindu party with an agenda’ in Christian-majority Nagaland to emerge as the biggest gainer with 11 of the maximum 60 seats. The party won just one seat in 2013.

As it became increasingly clear that no party or alliance would get a clear majority, the BJP faced the predicament of choosing between a new and an old ally. The BJP-NDPP combine ended up with 28 seats while the NPF and its “pre-poll” allies — the National People’s Party (NPP) and the Janata Dal (United) bagged 30. One seat went to an Independent.

The BJP had earlier hinted at going with the NPF in case the NDPP did not have the numbers. After the fractured verdict, Chief Minister and NPF leader T.R. Zeliang said: “It is up to the BJP to decide whether it wants to have an alliance with us or sit in the Opposition.”

But BJP general secretary Ram Madhav killed speculations by tweeting that his party was comfortably placed to form the government.

And by evening, the BJP-NDPP combine produced a letter of support from the lone Independent, Tongpang Ozukum.

State JD(U) president Senchumo Lotha too gave a letter of support to the BJP “for the sake of a stable government” and to “safeguard the interest of the National Democratic Alliance” in Delhi. The JD(U) bagged one seat and the NPP two seats.

More support

The NPP, which along with the JD(U) pledged support to the NPF on Friday, is also likely to join the BJP-NDPP.

The NPP is a member in the BJP-led alliance government in adjoining Manipur, besides being a constituent of the BJP-helmed North East Development Alliance.

“We are confident of forming a government that would try to fulfil the aspirations of the people,” NDPP leader and former Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio said. Mr Rio, who quit as the State’s lone Lok Sabha member last month after winning the Northern Angami-II seat unopposed, is expected to be at the helm again.

The “aspirations” include solution to the 21-year-old Naga peace process. The vexed issue had threatened to stall the elections with NGOs demanding a solution first.

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Printable version | Jan 26, 2020 7:57:34 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/elections/nagaland-2018/bjps-nagaland-worry-new-and-old-friends/article22921028.ece

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