Neiphiu Rio will be CM again if BJP-NDPP retains power in Nagaland: Himanta Biswa Sarma

A BJP source said there are no other contenders for the CM’s post but “there was a confusion who will lead the government if BJP-NDPP retains power.”
Nagaland CM Neiphiu Rio (File Photo | PTI)
Nagaland CM Neiphiu Rio (File Photo | PTI)

DIMAPUR: Neiphiu Rio will continue as the Nagaland Chief Minister if the BJP-Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP) combine retains power, his Assam counterpart Himanta Biswa Sarma declared on Monday.

“We managed to give a stable government in the last five years because of the strong friendship between BJP and NDPP. This time also, we decided on the 20:40 seat-sharing deal. Neiphiu Rio will be the Chief Minister again if we retain power. That is the agreement we had,” Sarma told a crowd at a BJP rally in the Wokha district of the state.

A BJP source said there are no other contenders for the CM’s post but “there was a confusion who will lead the government if BJP-NDPP retains power.”

As per their understanding, BJP and NDPP will contest 20 and 40 seats respectively like the last time. Nagaland has altogether 60 seats.

The 72-year-old Rio, who has a Congress past, first donned the CM’s mantle in 2003 after his Nagaland People’s Front or NPF (now Naga People’s Front) captured power by defeating the grand old party. He was the home minister in the SC Jamir-led previous Congress government but he ditched the party in 2002 and joined the NPF.

The NPF had won in 2008 as well as the 2013 elections with Rio continuing as the Nagaland CM. He, however, stepped down from the post ahead of the 2014 Lok Sabha elections that he contested successfully from the state’s lone seat as the NPF’s candidate. 

Two years later, he returned to state politics in a bid to reclaim the CM’s chair but the NPF shut the door on him. So, ahead of the 2018 elections, he floated the NDPP party and contested the elections after forging an alliance with the BJP.

Sarma, who heads the BJP-led and non-Congress conglomerate of political parties North East Democratic Alliance and is the BJP’s face in the Northeast, promised that BJP and NDPP would strive to solve the protracted Naga political problem if voted to power.

“We want a government which will bring development and solution to the Naga political issue. We will try to solve the Naga political problem within the next five years based on the unique Naga political history and uniqueness of the Naga people,” the Assam CM said.

He committed that if the BJP-NDPP combine retains power, it will construct the foothill road along the Assam-Nagaland border which is a long-standing demand of the people.

“The foothill road is mentioned in the manifestos of BJP and NDPP. So, it is now a common promise between the two parties. I will try to impress upon Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the foothill road,” he added. 

Sarma also requested people not to vote for the NPF stating that it has conceded defeat even before the elections by contesting only 22 seats. He did not mention the Congress which is contesting 25 seats.

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