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New Delhi,May 25: The Election Commission (EC) is considering a complaint filed asking it to de-register the Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP) as a political party.
NDPP, formed in October 2017, is the newest ally of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the Northeast, along with which it formed a government in Nagaland after the March assembly elections. As per the understanding, while NDPP gets to fill the chief minister’s post, BJP gets to have a deputy chief minister in the state.
In her complaint to the EC, first on December 15, 2017, and then with additional documents on May 8, Zeneisiilie Ate Loucii, a resident of Northern Angami II constituency, from where the present NDPP chief minister Neiphiu Rio was elected uncontested as an MLA, has accused several NDPP members of furnishing “false and fabricated information” under the EC’s Guideline 3 (IX) mandatory for the formation of a party.
As per the guideline, individual affidavits from at least 100 members of the party should be filed stating that they are registered electors and not a member of any other political party registered with the Commission. Attaching documentary evidence with her complaint, Loucii showed Peter Kuotsu, Abu Metha and Theyiekielei Tachii as being members of another regional party – the Naga People’s Front (NPF) – at the time of furnishing of affidavits to the ECI. According to a press note released by her, as many as 13 of the 103 members who filed affidavits with the ECI in May 2017 to form the party “appeared to have lied”.
“These politicians should have resigned from the NPF in May 2017, when they filed affidavits for the registration of NDPP, (however they) decided not to end their membership with the NPF. This seems to have been done in the hope of taking over the control of NPF, while simultaneously establishing a rival party – the NDPP. In fact, by orders dated September 20, 2017, the then president of NPF – Rio – appointed these individuals as secretary, central executive council, etc. of the NPF even though they were already members of the NDPP.”
During that time, Rio was leading a faction against NPF president Shurhozelie Liezietsu and declared himself as a parallel president of the party along with some rebel MLAs. The Rio-led faction also filed a petition with the ECI seeking recognition as the main NPF with the election symbol of a cock. The ECI documents show that some members of the NPF faction led by Rio who expressed their allegiance to him as NPF members in their December 17, 2017 application to the ECI also filed affidavits as members of NDPP in May of that year.
The ECI took note of the factionalism in the party and in January 2018, it allowed the NPF faction led by Liezietsu to retain the party symbol in the assembly elections. Thereafter, Rio and some other NPF members left the party to join the NDPP.
The BJP had a long alliance with the NPF but decided to break it in favour of the NDPP.
Looking at the responsibility of the top officer bearers of the NDPP into this regard, the complainant also pointed out to the ECI that the guideline bearing no 3 (VIII) also required an affidavit to be filed by the president/general secretary of the applicant party and sworn before a first-class magistrate/oath commissioner/notary public that no member of the organisation is a member of any other political party registered with the commission.
“Thus, it is a fact that the documentary evidences adduced with this complaint which have been obtained under the RTI demonstrate the fact that the members who formed the new Democratic Progressive Party have submitted false and fabricated information for their own personal gain without any consideration to the statutory and constitutional provisions.”
Underlining that “Elections to be understood in a wider sense, include all processes of election which consist of several stages and embraces many steps”, the complainant noted, “The registration of a political party under Section 29 (A) of the Representation of Peoples’ Act 1951 is a very serious process in the parliamentary democracy of our country.” Based on it, she has pleaded to the ECI that since the constitution of the party was “founded on fraud and falsity”, it “should be brought to an end by cancelling (its) registration”.
As per ECI sources, on receiving the detailed complaint on May 8, a letter has been sent to the NDPP seeking response.
“We have given the party time of about a fortnight to respond to the complaint and will accordingly proceed,” the sources said.
The Wire tried contacting Rio on the issue but has not received a response yet. (Courtesy: The Wire)