In a significant political development, Nagaland is heading for an all-party government, as the opposition Naga People’s Front (NPF) is most likely to join the People’s Democratic Alliance (PDA) government headed by Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), an ally of the PDA government is, however, yet to make its position clear about the all-party government.
The main opposition party in the Northeastern state, the NPF, which is the single largest party in Nagaland with 25 MLAs, decided to join the PDA government apparently for taking forward the much talked and vexed Naga political issue between the Centre and Naga political groups.
Led by Rio, the Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP) with 20 members and the BJP with 12 MLAs are also the partners of the PDA government.
Two independent members are also supporting the government while one seat was lying vacant in the 60-member state Assembly after the death of an MLA.
The latest political development is being shaped after almost all parties in the state came together following the formation of the Core Committee on Naga Political Issue (CCoNPI) led by Rio (convener) on June 16.
The Chief Minister requested the NPF leadership, including the opposition leader T.R. Zeliang to join the PDA government and the former accepted the offer on Tuesday.
The formal joining of NPF in the PDA government would take place within a few days, party sources said.
PDA sources said that Rio would now discuss the issue of NPF’s joining with the government with the junior ally BJP, which is yet to make its stand clear about the all-party government.
BJP sources said that in view of the political development, the BJP’s central leadership has asked its Nagaland in-charge Nalin Kohli to rush to the state to discuss the issue.
A BJP leader on condition of anonymity said the all-party government is a political game plan of the NDPP.
The BJP has all along been trying to form a government with its erstwhile ally NPF by ditching the NDPP.
The NPF with four members is still an ally of the BJP-led government in neighbouring Manipur.
Deputy Chief Minister and leader of the BJP legislature party Y. Patton said that he would comment on the latest political issue after getting clearance from the party’s central leadership.
However, seven of the 25 MLAs of the NPF have been maintaining ‘relations’ with the NDPP, the dominant party of the PDA government.
NPF General Secretary Achumbemo Kikon said that his party has been supporting the government on the Naga issue.
Assam Chief Minister and Convenor of North East Democratic Alliance (NEDA), a platform of non-Congress parties of Northeast India, Himanta Biswa Sarma said that he is not fully aware of the latest political move in Nagaland but he hinted that various issues of the region would be discussed when Union Home Minister Amit Shah would visit the region on July 24-25.
Nagaland Pradesh Congress Committee (NPCC) said that the decision of the opposition NPF to join the PDA government “on the pretext of Naga political issue to converge into an opposition-less government” was an insult to the people of the state as they fought the 2018 Assembly polls against the BJP.
The NPCC is a statement also alleged that the main purpose for the political matrimony between the NPF and PDA was to “raid the state exchequer and enjoy the perks of office while delaying the implementation of Naga political solution”.
Almost all political parties in Nagaland are maintaining towards bringing a final settlement to the decades-old Naga issue and urged for unity amongst all sections of the people, especially all the Naga national political groups.
The Central government has been separately holding the peace talks with the Isak-Muivah faction of the National Socialist Council of Nagalim (NSCN-IM) and eight other outfits which came together a few years ago under the banner of ‘Naga National Political Groups’ (NNPGs).
The NSCN-IM and other outfits entered into a ceasefire agreement with the government of India in 1997 and in the subsequent years and have held political dialogue since then.
The NSCN-IM, the dominant Naga group, since August 1997, held around 80 rounds of negotiations with the Centre.