KOHIMA, JULY 20: Will Naga People’s Front (NPF) ~ a political party that takes (or at least used to take) pride in its regional character ~ suffer a jolt? Will history repeat itself? Even as Legislators of the Cock party have decided to join the bandwagon of ruling People’s Democratic Alliance (PDA) Government headed by Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio, there is lingering apprehension that a political jolt could hit Nagaland again.
This time round, some restive NPF lawmakers have gone knocking at the door of PDA, which is the coalition of Nationalist Democratic People’s Party (NDPP), Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and one Independent MLA.
The MLAs have once again taken up the ever-reliant Naga political issue as their shield to join the PDA. But this is just an eyewash, political observers say.
Nevertheless, the bigger question is will Nagaland Legislative Assembly see a repeat of 2015, when 8 Congress MLAs, led by the current Lok Sabha MP Tokheho Yepthomi, joined the Democratic Alliance of Nagaland (DAN) Government, of which the BJP was also a part.
Those 8 Congress MLAs later defected to NPF and the Assembly then became an Opposition-less House. Since then, Congress has failed to send any representative to the NLA.
With the latest development, political parties in the State are engaged in closed-door meetings today to review their respective positions.
Nagaland BJP office bearers convened an emergency meeting chaired by President Temjen Imna Along today, ahead of National spokesperson and in-charge of Nagaland, Nalin Kohli’s arrival in the State tomorrow.
A party insider said that BJP will take a final call ~ whether to welcome the decision of NPF ~ after a meeting with Kohli tomorrow.
The saffron party source said that a meeting of State officer bearers was held today but the final call will be taken by the party high command. He said BJP was not against the idea of ‘Opposition-less Government’ if it is for Naga solution.
But he also added that NPF has not taken the final decision on joining the PDA Government.
A senior NPF Lawmaker said “everything is on the move”, adding that the issue is sensitive and critical as well. He said politics is “technical and not theoretical”. He further said no decision has been taken yet with regard to induction of NPF Legislators to the Ministry.
This is the second time some NPF Legislators have expressed their willingness to join the PDA Government.
Asked whether it was a desire of the BJP Government at the Centre to let political parties in Nagaland come together and form the Government, the NPF leader replied: “Yet to be known”.
Another NPF MLA said it would be the prerogative of the Chief Minister whether to induct them in the Ministry.
One source said some sections in both NPF and NDPP parties were not happy with the current political development. Reportedly BJP was also not happy with the politicking by the NPF and the Chief Minister.
Party functionaries of NPF and NDPP were kept in the dark about the latest hobnobbing between some NPF MLAs and the Chief Minister.
A Nagaland Pradesh Congress Committee source said the coming together of NPF, NDPP and BJP will be a “remarriage”.
An NDPP representative said they have not taken any decision with regards to the latest political turn. But it remains to be seen whether Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio, whose Government has been surviving thus far at the mercy of BJP, will accept the offer of NPF MLAs.
Joel Naga, President of Rising People’s Party, said that the proposed formation of the ‘Opposition-less Government’ is “a cheap but clever ploy by a certain top politician to hold on to his chair given the niggling worries of a possible NPF-BJP tie-up”.
The opportunity presented itself in the form of Core Committee on Naga Political issue, he said.
“The most interesting episode in this whole drama is that our Naga Political Groups (NPGs) seem to think it’s all about the Naga issue. Talk of a joyride. Secondly, just the other day, the NPF was taking the moral high ground on NDPP corruption. Today it has joined hands with them. This underscores what the RPP has been saying, that we are the only alternative for the 2023 elections. The political undercurrent only strengthens the RPP; we will fill the political vacuum”, he said.
Since 2003, when Rio first formed the DAN coalition, till his fourth term as Chief Minister, he has been engineering defections to his advantage. In 2003, he had pre-poll alliance with the BJP and JD (U), but the JD (U) which won 4 seats suffered a split; this was then followed by a post-poll alliance with Nationalist Democratic Movement (NDM) party.
In the fourth term, where his party could secure only 18 seats, Rio had a pre-poll alliance with BJP (who won 12 seats), and stitched a post-poll partnership with JD (U)-1, Independent-1 and NPP-2, to form the PDA Government.
Later JD (U) and NPP legislators defected to NDPP. With this now, the NDPP has 20 MLAs in the Assembly. The party still needs 11 MLAs to remain comfortably in the House.
And now with the NDPP deciding, in its meeting held today, to first consult its PDA partner BJP “before taking the matter forward”, the Chief Minister appears to have neatly passed the ball to the saffron party’s court.
A clearer picture will emerge in the next few days, whether the proposed political honeymoon will materialise or end in a very public embarrassment.
(Page News Service)