GUWAHATI: The three major political parties of Nagaland, -- the ruling Naga People’s Front (NPF), the BJP and the Congress -- have confirmed that they will participate in the upcoming Nagaland Assembly elections, despite an earlier decision to boycott it.
The political parties in the state have been under intense pressure from various tribal organisations to stay away from the polls.
The BJP said it would contest the polls to facilitate a solution to the protracted Naga political problem.
“BJP is for an early solution to the Naga political issue and will be part of the system to implement all agreements signed between the Government of India and the negotiating parties,” the party’s state unit stated in a statement. The statement was issued after a state unit team had met the party’s national general secretary Ram Madhav in New Delhi on Thursday.
The Congress said since all political parties were gearing up to take part in the polls, the grand old party would soon release the election manifesto “wherein the future is assured for all”.
The NPF said, “…The Government of India has repeatedly pointed out that holding of timely elections was a Constitutional requisite and that the Centre was bound by Constitutional provisions. It, therefore, appears that the election is a reality. If all Naga NGOs and political parties could not arrive at a consensus on deferment of elections, the NPF, as a recognized political party, cannot be an exception to participating in the upcoming general elections…However, our commitment towards the solution to the Naga issue shall continue…”
Earlier, after an all-party meeting on January 29, the 11 political parties had issued a joint declaration asserting: “We firmly believe that it is expedient for all political parties, both national and regional, to come together in the greater interest of the state in solidarity with the call (of) ‘solution before election’ and defer the elections and allow the Naga political process to reach its logical conclusion by giving space and time to the negotiating groups to bring out an early solution…”
The state’s chief electoral officer, Abhijit Sinha, told The New Indian Express that no candidate had filed the nomination papers as of Friday evening.
“The election is on. Nomination papers have been collected across the state,” he said. The last date for filing of the nomination is February 7.
Following the latest development, the next course of action by a conglomerate of tribal organisations, opposed to the polls, remains to be seen. It has convened a meeting on Saturday.
The Nagas have been embroiled in a conflict with the Government of India since the early 1950s. The demands of various Naga insurgent groups range from Naga sovereignty to the creation of a unified Naga homeland by integrating the Naga-inhabited areas of neighbouring Assam, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh.
The Centre had in 2015 signed the “Framework Agreement” with the Isak-Muivah faction of the insurgent group National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN-IM) as a prelude to the final pact. However, the contents have not yet been made public.