After two days of closed-door meetings between Union Home Minister Amit Shah and Nagaland Chief Minister Nephio Rio in Delhi, the seat-sharing deal between the Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was finalised on Thursday.
In the series of meetings, where North East Democratic Alliance (NEDA) Convenor Himanta Biswa Sarma was the main coordinator, the final deal was sealed at a 40:20 ratio.
After finalising the deal, Sarma said, “today we are finalising the seat sharing with NDPP for the Nagaland Legislative Assembly polls. BJP will contest 20 and NDPP will contest 40 seats in Nagaland. We finalised the seats where BJP will contest.”
Earlier in poll-bound Nagaland, senior NDPP leaders including NDPP Working President and Co-Founder of the party, Alemtemshi Jamir, Imkong L Imchen, sitting MLA of NDPP and several other senior party leaders had decided to join BJP.
The ruling alliance in Nagaland, led by the NDPP and the BJP is uniquely situated with no Opposition in the 60-member Assembly, but it has other political challenges.
State Congress unit president K Therie said the party will contest all the 60 seats but didn’t rule out a post-poll alliance with the Naga People’s Front (NPF) and other “like-minded and secular” parties.
NPP’s Polls Policy
The National People’s Party (NPP), which won two seats in its debut in 2018, is also looking to put up a strong fight. State unit president Andrew Ahoto said the party is looking to contest in 10-15 seats.
NPF will not enter into a pre-poll alliance but will work towards building understandings with all political parties for any post-poll alliance. According to NPF Legislature Party Leader, Azo Neinu, NPF has also formulated a strategy called “pre-poll understanding for post-poll alliance”.
He also dismissed speculations of an alliance between NPF and Congress in the forthcoming election by reiterating that NPF will pursue “pre-poll understanding for the post-poll alliance”. Azo said this was also shared by party president Shürhozelie Liezietsü when Congress leaders visited him recently.
On the call by Congress to have like-minded and secular parties coming together to form a secular alliance, Azo said in the context of Nagaland, since the Naga political issue was more important, the NPF was ready for an alliance with any political party in the interest of Nagas.
He also said the NPF, NDPP and BJP had come together under the umbrella of the United Democratic Alliance (UDA) in the larger interest of Naga political issues. “The pressing demand for a solution to the Naga political issue may grow stronger after 2023 and therefore, we cannot rule out another all-party government (after the election).”
Azo, however, pointed out that if an all-party government did not serve the interest of Nagas, it would not be formed. Asked if NPF will contest all 60 assembly seats, he said the party was contemplating contesting not more than 30 seats, but it was up to the party leaders and legislators to decide on seat allocation and ticket distribution.
In 2018, the NDPP (18 MLAs) and the BJP (12 MLAs) came together with the National People’s Party (2 MLAs) to form a government after the BJP broke its ties with its long-time ally, the Naga People’s Front (NPF). At the time, the NPF had won 26 seats, the single largest number.
There have only been more dramatic changes since then. In 2021, the NPF and Independents decided to join the NDPP-BJP alliance to seek a collective solution to the Naga problems.
But the heat is on the NDPP and BJP alliance who are contesting the polls on a 40:20 seat-sharing basis. Alongside parties, pressure has been mounting from the Naga National Political groups (NNPGs) that have accused the state BJP of “playing with fire” by going ahead with elections without an acceptable political settlement.
NNPGs is the umbrella organization of seven armed Naga outfits that joined peace talks after renewed negotiations between the central government and the NSCN(IM), Naga’s largest rebel group, on 3rd August 2015.
Seven tribes of six eastern districts under the umbrella of the Eastern Nagaland People’s Organization (ENPO) are demanding a separate Frontier Nagaland state and threatened to abstain from participating in any election process if the Union government failed to address its demand. Talks between a committee set up by the Union home ministry and the ENPO are ongoing.
Meanwhile, the Konyak Union has resolved to remain steadfast to ENPO’s August 26, 2022 resolution to abstain from participating in Nagaland Assembly elections. The decision was taken during an emergency meeting held in Mon’s Konyak Union office on January 18. The union will abstain from Nagaland elections until the demand for Frontier Nagaland is not fulfilled.
The union also informed that the house will permanently expel those individuals filing nominations to participate in the Nagaland Legislative Assembly election from Konyak soil and further added that the village of the person filing the nomination will be responsible for it. Konyak Union also urged Konyak Sheko Khong, Konyak Students’ Union and village councils to fully implement and act according to the resolution.
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