Kohima: As the assembly election date was announced for Nagaland with no solution to the protracted Naga political issue in sight, civil society organisations and a section of political parties of the northeastern state expressed disappointment. During campaigning for the 2018 assembly polls, the BJP coined the slogan ‘election for solution’. Several parties of the state have reminded the saffron party of it recently.
While senior leaders of both Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP) which have the largest number of MLAs in the all-party government in Nagaland and BJP could not be reached for comments, Congress and NPF said they, though unhappy, will contest the polls.
Civil society organisations said the Centre should prove its sincerity in solving the Naga political issue. The Election Commission on Wednesday announced in New Delhi that the assembly poll in the state will be held on February 27 and votes will be counted on March 2.
The Naga People’s Front (NPF), which has four MLAs in the outgoing assembly, said the top priority of the party is an honourable solution to the Naga political issue.
“We will contest the election with our manifesto on good and corruption-free governance, besides working for an honourable and acceptable solution to the Naga political problem,” NPF secretary general Achumbemo Kikon said.
Congress said the EC could have deferred the election in Nagaland but it went ahead in announcing the poll which “betrayed the aspiration of the people.”
“The party is not happy with the announcement of election,” state Congress president K Therie said.
Efforts to get comments from the two major political parties – Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP) and BJP – went in vain as their spokespersons did not respond to calls and messages.
In the 60-member assembly, the NDPP has 41 members, BJP has 12, and NPF has four. There are two Independents while one seat is vacant.
The civil society organisations urged the Centre to take steps for finding a solution to the issue.
Nagaland Peoples’ Action Committee (NPAC) on Naga Political Issue convener Theja Therieh told PTI that despite the announcement of the election date, the central government still has the power to take a decision on bringing about the Naga solution as the notification is not out yet.
“The government of India will have to prove its sincerity in bringing about an accord respecting Naga rights and history,” Naga Mothers’ Association advisor Rosemary Dzuvichu said.
A lot depends on political will and the next few weeks will indicate whether the Central government wants peace for the Nagas, she said.
“The slogan, election for solution, has become a rhetorical statement. They have forgotten to listen to the voice of the people,” said Naga Hoho (organisation) general secretary K Elu Ndang.
The Eastern Nagaland Peoples’ Organisation comprising seven tribes from six eastern districts earlier declared not to participate in the poll to put pressure on the government to fulfil its demand for a separate ‘Frontier Nagaland’ state.
Its leaders also could not be contacted.
Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio told reporters on Tuesday that his government does not want to create a constitutional crisis or let President’s Rule be imposed in the state.
He was replying to a question on what will happen if civil society organisations remain firm on their stand on not participating in the polls unless there is a solution to the protracted Naga political issue.
To find a solution to the decades-old problem, the Centre has been holding separate negotiations with NSCN-IM since 1997 and the Working Committee of Naga National Political Group (NNPG), comprising at least seven groups, since 2017.
It inked the Framework Agreement with NSCN-IM in 2015 and Agreed Position with NNPGs in 2017.
However, the final solution is yet to be attained with NSCN-IM remaining adamant on its demand for a separate flag and constitution for the Nagas.