GUWAHATI: After its sterling performance in Manipur, the Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma-led National People's Party (NPP) is now eying Nagaland.
In Manipur, the NPP had upstaged the Congress to become the principal opposition party. It feels the Manipur results will have a ripple effect in Nagaland.
The NPP had won two seats in the 2018 Nagaland polls but suffered a jolt soon after when both MLAs jumped ship. With the state bracing for the elections again, the NPP has started the groundwork.
"The Centre pumped so much money into Nagaland but we are yet to have the basic infrastructure. People are lying low but they see a good hope for them in the NPP because it is a sleeping lion," the party's Nagaland president Andrew Ahoto Sema told The New Indian Express.
"We are working undercurrent. Our election-related activities will be visible from September/October," he added.
The Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP) heads Nagaland's ruling coalition where the BJP is a key component.
Sema lamented the change in the Neiphiu Rio government's "change is coming" tagline remained elusive.
"We have never had any finger-pointing on anything but we feel the state should flourish. It has been for nearly 20 years that the people of Nagaland are waiting to see the change which the CM had spoken about," the NPP Nagaland chief said.
He said the party was grooming the potential workers to make them election-ready. He claimed the NPP also received feelers from some MLAs of ruling parties who were willing to join it.
"They have given us a word that they will join us at the last moment after everything goes off well. So, we have got some sympathisers and they know the NPP will surely do well in 2023," Sema said.
The NPP has nothing to lose. It can have an alliance with anybody, he added.
"The results in Manipur will surely have a ripple effect in Nagaland. We did not go negative integer but went high by winning seven seats, three more than the 2017 tally of four. But a national party like the Congress slumped. Our graph is slowly going up," Sema said.
He observed that the regional parties of the Northeast could do better by aligning with the NPP.
"They can align with us and grow to a better level. This is our ideology. We espouse 'one voice, one Northeast' so that we have a common platform where we can raise our issues. We understand our people better. We have a dynamic leader in Conrad Sangma," Sema said.
He insisted the solution to the "Naga political problem" should also come with infrastructure projects apart from what would be agreed upon by the negotiating parties.
"I feel the Centre should give us infrastructure projects. We need medical colleges. Currently, we have none. We need industries, roads, electricity, water, and development. We are so close to Myanmar but we don’t have an international airport," Sema lamented.
The NPP heads the ruling coalition in Meghalaya and has four MLAs in Arunachal. It also has its presence in Assam.