Despite the non settlement of many issues including the Naga political imbroglio and demand for a separate state besides anti-incumbency, the ruling parties might not face a major challenge in the upcoming assembly polls due to the absence of a strong political opposition.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP) finalised a seat sharing deal in July last year to contest the 60-member Nagaland assembly elections. The opposition Congress was keen to forge a “secular alliance” with like-minded parties before the elections.
India’s first all party and opposition-less government, the United Democratic Alliance (UDA) led by the NDPP practically has no strong opposition except some Naga bodies and NGOs. With 12 members the BJP is also an ally of the UDA.
As per the pre-poll deal, the NDPP will contest 40 seats and the BJP will fight in the remaining 20 seats.
In the 2013 assembly elections, the Congress, which ruled the northeastern state for almost 15 years during its worst phase of militancy and other difficult situations, secured 8 seats but in the last assembly polls in 2018, the party drew a blank.
Nagaland state Congress president K. Therie said that considering the national political scenario, the formation of a “secular alliance” with like-minded parties to prevent a vote division and to defeat the BJP is the urgent need of the hour.
He, however, did not disclose the names of the parties with whom the Congress would form the proposed “secular alliance”.
“No party has as yet responded to our appeal. If no party comes forward to form a secular front, we would field 60 candidates on our own,” Therie told IANS.
Urging all “erstwhile” Congress leaders, workers and well-wishers to rejoin the party to fight against the “anti-Christ, anti-Christian, anti-Muslim and anti-women” forces, Therie said that a secular and democratic government is necessary in Nagaland to remove the roadblocks and to resolve the Naga political issue.
Slamming the NDPP-BJP seat sharing arrangement many months ahead of the Assembly election, the Congress leader claimed that the alliance is an attempt to divert the people’s attention from the political solution of the Naga issue that had been put in cold storage.
The Nagaland Congress has asked all the 60 MLAs of the state to resign in support of the demand for a solution to the Naga political issue.
Therie said that his party strongly opposed the demand for the creation of a separate state — ‘Frontier Nagaland’, raised by the influential Eastern Nagaland People’s Organisation (ENPO).
“We do not want further division of Nagaland. However, the areas falling under the proposed ‘Frontier Nagaland’ are backward due to the misgovernance of the present government,” Therie said.
Claiming that the six districts — Mon, Tuensang, Kiphire, Longleng, Noklak and Shamator — have been neglected for years, the ENPO has been demanding a separate state since 2010.
The influential Naga National Political Groups (NNPG) said that in 1998 the Congress went against the wishes of the Naga people by going ahead with the election, instead of a solution.
“They (Congress) assumed power uncontested. They failed to honour the people’s demand and rather believed that they had wiped out all the other regional parties in Nagaland. The Naga people responded by promptly showing the Congress the exit door. Sadly, the Congress is struggling to regain the confidence of the people,” the NNPG stated.
The solution of the Naga political imbroglio is the topmost issue in Nagaland and the state government and all parties have been demanding a resolution of the decades-old issue before the Assembly elections.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah’s recent Nagaland visit could not melt the ice on two vital matters – the Naga political issue and the separate state demand.
Activists of the Nagaland People’s Action Committee (NPAC) and civil society organisations displaying placards and banners outside Dimapur airport greeted Shah.
Despite the Nagaland government’s repeated appeals, the ENPO remained firm to boycott the assembly elections, if their demand was not met.
The UDA government recently once again asked the ENPO to reconsider their demand for a separate state and not to boycott the forthcoming assembly elections.
Talking to IANS over the phone, ENPO secretary W. Manwang Konyak said that they are firm on boycotting the assembly polls if their demand is not met before the elections.
To a question about the Nagaland government’s appeal, the ENPO leader said: “We are waiting for the response from the Central government. The Union Home Minister will again come to Tuensang in Nagaland at the end of this month and is expected to visit our region to discuss the separate state demand.”
(Sujit Chakraborty can be contacted at email@example.com)