To decide Naga political issue, Nagaland heading for all-party govt

With the ruling and opposition parties making hectic efforts for the past few months to form an all-party government in Nagaland, all the political parties will meet on Saturday to finalise the formation of the Nagaland United Government (NUG), sources said on Wednesday.

According to the political parties, the main aim of forming the NUG is to resolve the Naga political issue involving various outfits including the NSCN (IM).

As Nagaland is heading for an all-party government, the opposition Naga People’s Front (NPF) is most likely to join the NUG headed by Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio.

NPF legislature party leader T.R. Zeliang said that a joint meeting of the ruling People’s Democratic Alliance (PDA), NPF and Independent MLAs would be held on September 18 in Kohima to decide about the Nagaland United Government.

He said that he was optimistic that every aspect of the formation of the NUG would be finalised on Saturday and then formal letters would be given to the state assembly speaker and the governor to change the nomenclature from PDA government to NUG.

An all-party meeting comprising the Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP) headed by Rio, Bharatiya Janata Party, NPF and two Independent legislators was held on August 11. It agreed in principle to form an all-party government under the name of NUG.

“Our aim is very clear and transparent. We have come together to resolve the long awaited Naga political issue. We wish the Naga issue is settled before Christmas,” Zeliang told the media.

Surprising the political circles in Nagaland and other northeastern states, the Centre on September 9 transferred Nagaland Governor Ravindra Narayan Ravi to Tamil Nadu. He was the government’s interlocutor for the much-debated Naga peace talks, which are now in the last stages of finalisation.

Assam Governor Jagdish Mukhi has been given the additional charge as Nagaland Governor.

With the backing of the central leaders the BJP, an ally of the PDA government, in principle also supported the move for an all-party government.

The NPF, which is the single largest party in Nagaland with 25 MLAs, decided to join the proposed NUG government apparently for taking forward the Naga political issue between the Centre and Naga political groups.

Led by Rio, the NDPP with 20 members and the BJP with 12 MLAs are also the leading partners of the incumbent PDA government.

Two independent members are also supporting the government while one seat is lying vacant in the 60-member Assembly after the death of an MLA.

The latest political development comes after almost all parties in the northeastern state came together following the formation of the Core Committee on Naga Political Issue (CCoNPI) led by Rio (convener) on June 16.

Deputy Chief Minister and leader of the BJP legislature party Y. Patton said that his party is also keen to resolve the Naga political issue at the earliest.

Nagaland Pradesh Congress Committee (NPCC) said that the decision of the opposition NPF to join the PDA government “on the pretext of Naga political issue to converge into an opposition-less government” was an insult to the people of the state as they fought the 2018 Assembly polls against the BJP.

The NPCC in a statement also alleged that the main purpose for the political matrimony between the NPF and PDA was to “raid the state exchequer and enjoy the perks of office while delaying the implementation of a Naga political solution”.

The Central government has been separately holding peace talks with the Isak-Muivah faction of the National Socialist Council of Nagalim (NSCN-IM) and eight other outfits which came together a few years ago under the banner of ‘Naga National Political Groups’ (NNPGs).

The NSCN-IM and other outfits entered into a ceasefire agreement with the government of India in 1997 and in the subsequent years and held a political dialogue since then.

The NSCN-IM, the dominant Naga group since August 1997, has held around 80 rounds of negotiations with the Centre.