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Will BJP be the lone political party to contest Nagaland Assembly elections?

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    Kohima, Feb 3: The political stalemate in poll-bound Nagaland is baffling. While all the major political parties have boycotted the upcoming Nagaland Assembly elections, it seems only the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is going to contest the polls.

    The elections for the 60-member state Assembly are slated on February 27. In January, the Election Commission (EC) announced poll dates for three Northeastern states--Nagaland, Meghalaya and Tripura.

    bjp

    While Nagaland and Meghalaya elections are scheduled on February 27, voting will take place in Tripura on February 18.

    On Monday, all 11 political parties in the hill state decided to boycott the polls. The BJP was also part of the election boycott brigade. However, later the state unit of the saffron party decided to take part in the polls following instructions from the party's "high command" in Delhi.

    The decision to boycott the elections is 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.

    Thus, all political parties have not fielded any candidates till now for the elections. No candidate filed papers on Friday, the third day of filing of nominations for the February 27 Nagaland Assembly election, officials said.

    The filing of nominations in the north-eastern started following the issuance of the poll notification by the Election Commission (EC) on January 31.

    The Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) of Nagaland, Abhijit Sinha, said no candidate had filed nominations for the election so far. The last date of filing of nominations is February 7.

    The media cell convener of the BJP's Nagaland unit, K James Vizo, on Thursday said that after a thorough deliberation, "it was agreed upon that the BJP would contest the election as scheduled for the cause of a solution in the state."

    The BJP, an ally of the ruling Naga People's Front (NPF), is yet to finalise its candidates, while both the parties have not come to any conclusion on seat-sharing for the election to the 60-member state Assembly.

    Vizo said the party leaders were holding discussions with the national leaders to finalise the candidates, while talks were also going on with the NPF over seat-sharing.

    Rajya Sabha member and NPF secretary general KG Kenye said the party had entrusted its president, Shurhozelie Liezietsu, and Chief Minister TR Zeliang with the task of finalising the candidates and taking a decision on seat- sharing with the BJP.

    Except for the BJP, no political party in Nagaland, including the NPF and opposition Congress, has made any official statement on contesting the polls. But they have said they will file nominations if any party does so first.

    "The NPF, as a party, has solemnly pledged its allegiance to the principle of socialism, secularism and democracy. However, our commitment towards a solution to the Naga political issue shall continue as in the past," a party statement said.

    Nagaland Congress secretary Moa Imchen told PTI that the first list of the party's candidates was approved by the All India Congress Committee (AICC), but the party would stand firm on its commitment that unless the other parties filed nominations, it would not do so.

    Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party's (NDPP) working president Nuzota Swuro said, "We are mentally and physically prepared to contest the election, but everything depends on the filing of nominations by the other political parties."

    JD(U) Nagaland convener Senchumo NSN Lotha said the party was preparing to contest from at least 10 seats, if the polls were held.

    The Core Committee of Nagaland Tribal Hoho and Civil Organisation (CCNTHCO) has asked the presidents and office- bearers of all the apex tribal bodies and civil society organisations to attend a meeting in Kohima on Saturday to chart the future course of action.

    A joint declaration was signed by all the political parties in the state on Monday not to contest the polls, in solidarity with the call of the Naga tribal organisations and civil society.

    But the BJP backed out the next day, stating that the final call on the issue would be taken by its central leaders.

    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.

    However, after the election date was announced recently, all their hopes were dashed to the ground. The people of the state feel that once again they are being cheated as the peace process got postponed in the wake of elections.

    The powerful tribal bodies and civil society organisations have been demanding signing of the Naga peace deal before the elections. With the latest declaration of boycott of elections, political uncertainty prevails in Nagaland.

    Nagaland Assembly
    Party 2013 Current Standing  
    NPF 38 45 Election Date : Feb 27 2018
    Counting : Mar 03 2018
    IND 08 08
    CONG 08 00
    NCP 04 01
    BJP 01 04
    JDU 01 01
    OTHERS 00 00
    Total 60 59 (1 Vacant)

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