National

BJP seals Nagaland poll deal with new regional party

Kiren Rijiju. File   | Photo Credit: V. Sudershan

The Bharatiya Janata Party has sidelined its long-time ally Naga People’s Front and sealed a seat-sharing arrangement with a new regional party for the February 27 Assembly elections in Nagaland.

Out of the 60 seats, the BJP will contest 20 seats and the Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP) 40. The State’s lone Lok Sabha member and former Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio heads the NDPP.

New alliance

“The BJP will be contesting the Nagaland Assembly elections in alliance with the NDPP, and we are confident that together we will form the next government,” Union Minister of State for home Kiren Rijiju, accompanied by Mr. Rio, said here on Saturday.

But he insisted the BJP had not severed ties with the ruling Naga People’s Front (NPF), which had been divided into three camps. One was led by Mr. Rio before he joined the NDPP last year.

Chief Minister T.R. Zeliang and his predecessor, Shurhozelie Liezietsu, also the NPF president, led the other two camps. Mr. Zeliang and Mr. Liezietsu patched up months after the NPF decided to snap ties with the BJP last July.

“The NPF has been one of the oldest members of the NDA, since 2003, and though the two parties have been ruling partners, they have never had a pre-poll alliance. This time too, we discussed the possibility of an electoral tie-up, but Zeliang and Shurhozelie declined,” Mr. Rijiju said.

The NDPP’s position in the current political scenario in Nagaland made it an obvious choice of alliance for the BJP, he added.

Naga peace deal

The Minister said the BJP’s decision to go ahead with the Nagaland polls despite a boycott call by a core committee of tribal groups did not amount to undermining the sentiments associated with the protracted Naga political issue.

The issue pertains to a final peace deal with the Isak-Muivah faction of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland with which a ceasefire was declared almost 21 years ago. The boycott call last month — 11 political parties had pledged support — was in demand for a solution before the elections.

“Only elections can bring a solution, and we have conveyed to the underground groups that there is no point of vitiating the atmosphere when talks are on. We have told them not to create trouble during the polls and not to violate the ceasefire ground rules,” Mr. Rijiju said.

The core committee too has realised that opposing the elections was not in the spirit of democracy and could lead to a 1998-like situation when one party (the Congress) swept the polls unchallenged, he added.

Mr. Rio appealed to the people of Nagaland to support the democratic process so that the “governance system can be restored and corruption kept in check.” He said: “We will never come in the way of a solution that is honourable.”

Meanwhile, no nomination was filed for the fourth successive day in the State. The last day of filing papers is February 7. State’s chief election officer Abhijit Sinha said many candidates had collected nomination papers.

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Printable version | Feb 26, 2021 3:48:47 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/bjp-seals-nagaland-poll-deal-with-new-regional-party/article22645903.ece

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