NE political muddle: NDPP-BJP to rule Nagaland, NPF with maximum seats not part of govt?
Kohima, March 6: In the hill states of Meghalaya and Nagaland, post-election developments have become more interesting exposing the intricacies of politics in the Northeast region. Like in Meghalaya, in Nagaland too, the party with maximum seats will not be a part of the government formation. In Meghalaya, the Congress got the maximum seats (21 in the 60-member Assembly) in the recently held elections. In Nagaland, the Naga People's Front (NPF) has emerged as the single largest party with 27 seats in the 60-member Assembly. However, the NPF is unlikely to be a part of the government formation in Nagaland. Similarly, in Meghalaya, the National People's Party (NPP) with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and other regional parties are forming the government.
On Monday, the BJP, which has won 12 seats in the Nagaland Assembly elections, has declared that it will back the Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP) with 17 seats in the government formation in the state. In the Nagaland elections, the results of which were declared on Saturday, two seats went to the National People's Party (NPP), and one each to the Janata Dal (United) (JD-(U)) and Independent. The elections in Meghalaya, Nagaland and Tripura were held in February. While in Tripura, the BJP got a clear mandate to rule the state with 35 seats, in Nagaland and Meghalaya, no party single-handedly crossed the magic mark of 31 to stake claim to form the next government in the hill states.
The BJP was earlier in alliance with the NPF. Before the elections, the BJP forged an alliance with the Neiphiu Rio-led NDPP to fight polls. However, the BJP continued its support to the previous NPF government in the state till the other day. Now, the NPF is not ready to break its ties with the BJP and insists that it will form the government with the saffron party in Nagaland, once again. Thus Nagaland's incumbent Chief Minister TR Zeliang from the NPF is yet to resign from his post.
On Monday, the BJP stated that it would form the government in Nagaland with its pre-poll alliance partner NDPP and ruled out extending support to its 15-year-old ally NPF, which has emerged as the single largest party in the Assembly polls. After meeting NDPP leader Rio in Kohima, BJP leader and Assam Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma told reporters that his party was no longer in alliance with the NPF that had been in power in the state since 2008.
"We will go with the NDPP," Sarma said. He also advised incumbent CM Zeliang to "resign gracefully respecting democratic norms". Commenting on Sarma's statement, the NPF said it was a "unilateral decision" of the BJP. Stating that the resolution of the Naga political issue was the top priority of the NPF, party spokesperson Achumbemo Kikon told PTI, "In the interest of the peace process, the NPF had decided to reaffirm the alliance with the BJP and we want to continue the alliance."
He added that the NPF has won 27 seats and combined with the 12 seats won by the BJP, "We will be able to provide a stable and strong government to the people of the state." Asked whether the BJP's decision to sever ties with the NPF would impact their relationship in Manipur, where four NPF legislators are a part of the BJP government, Kikon said, "The NPF will have to revisit the decision".
Kikon said the incumbent CM Zeliang is in close touch with the BJP high command and "we still hope good sense will prevail on the BJP leaders". He said the mandate of the Naga people in electing 27 NPF candidates is a clear indication that Nagas prefer and support the leadership of Zeliang over Rio as the NDPP had won only 17 seats.
"Being a national party, if the BJP does not consider the possibility of providing a stable and strong government by continuing the alliance with the NPF, it is up to them," the NPF spokesperson said. Sarma, however, said, "We cannot go back to the NPF as we had gone to the people in the Assembly election with the pre-poll alliance with the NDPP."
On Sunday, both Rio and Zeliang had met Governor PB Acharya and claimed to have the support of the majority of MLAs. Acharya had told reporters that Rio and Zeliang have claimed to have majority support, but "I have not invited anyone to form the government as of now. I have given them 48 hours to submit the signatures of the elected members supporting them".
"As the constitutional head, my duty is to see who has the majority and call him to form the new government. Whoever brings the signatures of more than 30 elected members I will accept," he had stated.
Amid all these tussles between the NPF and the NDPP, the political situation in Nagaland remains uncertain.