The National People’s Party (NPP), hopeful of retaining power in home turf Meghalaya, has set its sights on Nagaland in the bid to be “voice of the northeast”.
The Assembly elections in Meghalaya, Nagaland and Tripura are due by February 2023.
The party, headed by Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad K. Sangma feels that its improved electoral show in the adjoining Manipur will spill over to Nagaland, where it had debuted with two seats in 2018. Tripura is not on its radar now.
The NPP replaced the Congress to become the principal opposition party in Manipur after the Assembly elections in February-March this year. It won seven seats, three more than in 2017.
Although its two MLAs defected to the regional Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP), the NPP believes its brand of “development-oriented politics” has been attracting people ahead of the State polls. It has started the groundwork, grooming leaders for the “change Nagaland needs”.
The NDPP heads the coalition government in Nagaland with the Bharatiya Janata Party as a partner. The BJP is an ally of the NPP in Meghalaya.
Andrew Ahoto Sema, the NPP’s Nagaland president said his party has been keeping a low profile. “Our election-related activities will be visible from September-October. The people realise the NPP is a sleeping lion that can give the scope to develop,” he said.
‘Waiting for change’
Mr. Sema said the NDPP-led government failed to live up to its tagline of “change is coming” despite the Centre pumping in loads of money into Nagaland for non-existent basic infrastructure.
“The people of Nagaland are waiting for the change for nearly 20 years,” he told The Hindu.
Mr. Sema claimed his party has received feelers from some MLAs and senior leaders of the ruling parties keen on joining the NPP. “We have some sympathisers and they know the NPP, which can make an alliance with any other party, will do well in 2023,” he said.
He also said the graph of NPP as an alternative to mainstream parties was going up in the northeast. “The regional parties can do better by aligning with us, as we believe in growing together from a common platform. Our motto is one voice, one northeast and we understand our people better,” he added.
Mr Sema further said the solution to the “Naga political problem” should come with an infrastructure package with deadlines for completing projects instead of an economic package. “We need medical colleges, viable industries, roads, electricity, water and not a financial package that may go into the pockets of a few,” he said.