Kohima, Feb 23: It is the demand to immediately settle the seven-decade-long Naga political problem that all political parties in the state in January boycotted the upcoming Nagaland Assembly elections. However, later they revoked their decision and decided to field candidates for the polls. The Assembly elections in Nagaland are scheduled on February 27. It does not mean that the issue of settlement of the Naga political problem has fizzled out in the poll-bound state.
The decision to boycott the elections was based on the popular sentiment that the Centre should first resolve the seven-decade-long Naga political problem before conducting elections for the 13th state legislative assembly.
The political parties came to the decision to boycott polls as apex tribal hohos (bodies) and civil society organisations have long been demanding the early settlement of the vexed Naga political problem. Earlier, the Naga Hoho, the state's apex tribal organisation, warned that it would not "allow the elections".
On Thursday, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Nagaland to campaign for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) he spoke out about the contentious issue. In fact, he assured the crowd at a rally in Tuensang that the Centre is soon going to settle the Naga political problem.
"We are working seriously and in some months we will settle the Naga political problem which will be respectable and honouring political rights of Nagas. This will strengthen democracy. We are having parleys with different groups and organisations," the PM said.
The National Socialist Council of Nagalim (Isak-Muivah) (NSCN-IM) has been engaged in peace talks with the Centre since 1997 when it announced a ceasefire agreement after a violent insurgency movement. In 2015, the Naga peace accord was signed between the Centre and the NSCN-IM.
Since then the residents of Nagaland have been hopeful that peace will finally arrive in the state. In the recent times, especially after assurances from central leaders, including Centre's interlocutor in the Naga peace talks RN Ravi, there has been a renewed hope for lasting peace in the state.
The BJP has fielded 20 candidates and its alliance partner the Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP) 40 for the elections to the 60-member Assembly. PM Modi said Nagaland needed a strong and stable government to work for development. "My vision for the Northeast is transformation by transportation," he said during the election meeting at Tuensang, about 360 kilometres from Kohima, according to the official Twitter account of the BJP Nagaland.
He said that in less than four years, the centre has added 500 km of national highways and plans to invest more than Rs. 10,000 crore in the roads of Nagaland. PM Modi called on the people of the state to vote for the BJP-NDPP alliance "which would ensure that the funds reach the people".
Along with Nagaland, Meghalaya is also voting for the state Assembly elections on February 27. The Assembly elections in Tripura were held on February 18. The results of all the three Assembly elections will be declared on March 3.