Tie-up with Neiphiu Rio: A masterstroke by BJP?
In a few hours from now, it would be clear who will form the government in Nagaland where political developments have been voltile in the last few months. The BJP which currently in the Nagaland government with NPF has decided to walk out of the alliance and join hands with Neiphiu Rio's newly launched party NDPP.
Rio himself was in NPF for a long time and was Chief Minister of Nagaland twice representing NPF. It was only post 2016 that a rift began to appear between Rio and the faction of NPF leaders who decided to side with the incumbent chief minister TR Zeliang.
BJP decided to latch on to this oppurtunity and stitched an alliance with the Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP), a party launched by Rio last year after parting ways with the NPF. BJP could not have possibly gone alone in Nagaland where Christians are a majority. Becasue the BJP is seen a 'Hindu' party, it had to go along with a regional party to have any chance of forming the government.
On the other hand, Rio, although a seasoned politician in Nagaland, also needed support as his party, NDPP, was a new entity. So, the alliance between the BJP and Rio is mutually beneficial to both. Neiphiu Rio has already been declared elected unopposed from the Northern Angami-II constituency as no one else filed nomination from Northern Angami-II constituency.
CM TR Zeliang had slammed Neiphiu Rio for instability in the NPF. Some NPF leaders have also accused Rio of being power hungry. So even see Rio as an oppurtunist, but in a few hours from now, things will become clear.
Religious bodies are also playing role in Nagaland elections. Recently the all-powerful Nagaland Baptist Churches Council (NBCC) had launched a scathing campaign against the BJP. In an open letter, the NBCC had appealed to all other political parties not to support the saffron party and its "brand of Hindutva politics" as India had experienced the worst persecution of minority communities in 2015-2017 under the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS)-backed BJP government at the Centre.
However, what is interesting is that the BJP is witnessing a political rise in the North East. It reamains to be seen how much of this 'rise' actually translates to votes.