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21 ‘defeated’ NDPP candidates may spring a surprise

Nagaland News

Ex-MLAs’ Forum want presidentship of BJP or JD (U)

Nirendra Dev
NEW DELHI/DIMAPUR, AUGUST 3: Will ‘problem of plenty’ make a difference for Neiphiu Rio?
It’s the season of political match-making and hence the coming weeks will offer many surprises in Nagaland politics.
The Forum of former lawmakers that was instrumental behind KL Chishi’s immense success during Lok Sabha polls in 2019 would be meeting in Dimapur on Thursday, August 4, and will draw out plans vis-à-vis the fast approaching election season.
“We may decide to work out a formula with as many as 21 NDPP candidates who lost the 2018 polls. They are definitely not happy with the defectors from their respective seats being embraced and offered red carpet welcome. They are now very keen to look for fresh and good option”, a Forum insider said.
“We are not against the BJP …At this juncture, especially in the context of working for peace and solution to end the insurgency and political issue, Nagas need to be friendly to the ruling party in Delhi”, said a key leader of the Forum.
There is truly a problem of plenty for the Neiphiu Rio-led NDPP as 21 NPF legislators defected and joined the party two months back.
Naturally, the 21 candidates in some of the key segments are displeased with the manner the turncoats have been ‘honoured and accommodated’.
Unlike NPF, which despite having enough reasons to be ‘displeased’ with the NDPP, is still talking about another ‘opposition-less’ government post 2023 battle, the Forum of ex MPs and legislators is all set to emerge as a viable alternative to Rio’s leadership.
The development is set to cause immense chaos in Nagaland BJP whose cadres are still unhappy with the manner the July 26 ‘surrender deal’ was planned and executed by a leader of Assam.
The former lawmakers’ Forum says it does not want to disturb BJP’s 20:40 seat share formula with the NDPP too but explains carefully, “We want to draw out plans where we can provide more winnable candidates and participate actively in campaigning and drawing a mass level support”.
As it is, the NDPP headed by Chief Minister Rio as of now has support of 44 MLAs of his own party but 4 of them would be denied tickets as the ruling party has pledged to contest only 40 seats and leave 20 for the BJP.
Between 2018 and now, legislators elected from JD (U) G Kaito and NPP MLA L Khumo have joined NDPP. While Kaito is Agriculture Minister, L Khumo Khiamniungan is now an Advisor.
The State Housing Minister Tongpang Ozüküm also figures in this club as he had won as an Independent candidate from politically sensitive Angetyongpang Assembly constituency and had defeated Rio’s trusted colleague Alemtemshi Jamir.
The former IAS officer Alemtemshi could be now NDPP candidate from Mongoya where too he lost by a narrow margin in 2018.
“As of now, our formula is based on hardcore political commitment and all out efforts would be made to resolve the Naga issue and bring a purposeful end to the long negotiations”, another source in the Forum said.
“The Forum is not for power game. Let there be good and alternative leadership to the present one led by Neiphiu Rio; but for an effective drawing of roadmap with JD (U) or the BJP, one senior member of the Forum should get organisational role for party presidentship”, the source explained.
The idea is that the Forum’s principles and ideologies ought to be reflected in the political manifesto and other programmes.
“If the BJP or the JD (U) does not want to disturb the equilibrium, our Form leader(s) should get chairmanship and other key roles in the campaign committee”, said a Forum insider.
The ex-parliamentarians say they do not want to derail the peace process.
“If negotiating parties ~ that is the militant groups and the Government of India ~ want to go ahead with a Solution to bring peace before August 15, we will first insist that it should happen and we will be the happiest lot”, said another leader.
He, however, insisted: “Talks should be purposeful and not merely in the name of negotiations. But we are against negotiations which are not making any progress since 2019.”
Keeping the negotiations on but not arriving at any solution had led to increase in extortion from the civilian population.
The Naga guerrilla groups have argued in public that such extortion is legitimate taxation.
A former Minister and strategist of the Forum said, “The present NDPP-led coalition dispensation has failed to deliver peace and solution. It is a known fact.”

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