A powerful Naga organisation has ‘restrained’ political parties from contesting in Manipur’s Naga-dominated assembly constituencies.
The diktat comes almost a week after seven non-Naga militant organisations issued a boycott call against the Congress in the January 28 polls.
The rein-in order by the United Naga Council (UNC), Manipur’s apex Naga body, is allegedly aimed at ensuring victory for the Naga People’s Front (NPF), the party heading the ruling coalition in Nagaland. The NPF is contesting in Manipur for the first time and has fielded 12 candidates in the Naga-inhabited four hill districts.
The Congress is not amused. “Who gave them the right to dictate others? We have been facing this situation for the last two elections. We hope the Election Commission (EC) takes suitable action,” former Manipur chief minister and Rajya Sabha MP Rishang Keishing, a Naga leader in Meitei-dominated Manipur, said.
The UNC was acting on behalf of Naga rebels and the NPF, he added.
Non-Naga groups and political parties alleged the NPF’s entry and UNC’s diktat were a part of a greater design to promote a unified homeland for Nagas scattered beyond Nagaland.
The NPF, however, has defended the UNC statement, arguing its message was misinterpreted. “The UNC has indeed appealed to the Nagas to back the NPF but it hasn’t exactly issued a ban on other parties. It has criticised the Congress for not standing up for the cause of the Nagas,” Kho John, the NPF’s Manipur unit secretary, told HT.