Everything is possible in politics. Nagaland has proved this by making space for Congress alongside BJP in a coalition government.
Bitter rivals elsewhere, the Congress and BJP embarked upon a journey of friendship on Friday when Nagaland chief minister TR Zeliang inducted Congress legislator Tokheho Yepthomi into the state Cabinet.
The BJP has since 2003 been a part of the coalition Democratic Alliance of Nagaland (DAN) government headed by the Naga People’s Front (NPF) that Zeliang belongs to. The other constituents are JD(U)and NCP.
Soon after Nagaland governor PB Acharya swore Yepthomi in, Zeliang appointed five other Congress legislators as parliamentary secretaries. One of them was made adviser to the chief minister with Cabinet rank and another was made deputy speaker of the assembly.
Two NPF legislators were also inducted into the Cabinet.
Until Thursday, DAN had 52 MLAs including four of BJP and eight Independents in the 60-member Nagaland House. Congress with eight legislators was thus the only opposition.
But the inclusion of the Congress MLAs in the alliance and the government means there is no opposition party in Nagaland.
Zeliang was under pressure to accommodate some of the Congress legislators in his government, as they had saved his government during a trial of strength in February. A revolt within the NPF had led to the trial of strength.
When BJP president Amit Shah visited Nagaland last month, Zeliang pushed for an all-party government in view of the “ground reality”.
The Nagaland unit of BJP, however, issued a statement, saying: “There can never be the BJP and Congress in the same camp or government.”
Pradesh Congress president K Therie too had said his party would not align with “communal forces” without naming the BJP.
Meanwhile, there are speculations that the eight Congress MLAs might either join NPF or float a new party. This could deal a major blow to the Congress that once reigned supreme in the state.