Congress open to alliance with NPF in Nagaland if it severs ties with BJP
The Naga People’s Front snapped a 15-year alliance with the BJP in the state after the saffron party decided to contest the election instead of shunning it as a mark of protest against the lack of a solution to the Naga regionalist issue. But the NPF continues to be a part of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance outside Nagaland.Nagaland Election 2018 Updated: Feb 09, 2018 14:42 IST
The Congress in Nagaland said it was open to partnering with the Naga People’s Front if it severed ties with the Bharatiya Janata Party, signalling the possibility of a fresh realignment of political groupings after an aborted campaign last month by key parties to boycott the elections.
The Naga People’s Front (NPF) snapped a 15-year alliance with the BJP in the state after the saffron party decided to contest the election instead of shunning it as a mark of protest against the lack of a solution to the Naga regionalist issue. But the NPF continues to be a part of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance outside Nagaland.
“If NPF formally distances itself from BJP, we can have an alliance or seat-sharing understanding with it. We want to prevent saffronisation of Nagaland,” state Congress president K Therie said on Wednesday. “They (NPF) also have to clearly state their secular credentials.”
Wednesday was also the last date for filing of nominations for the elections on February 27. If a deal is struck, the Congress could withdraw some nominations to make victory easy for NPF candidates, according to leaders in the party who asked not to be named.
The Congress has named 23 candidates while the NPF has decided to contest 56 of the total 60 seats.
The last date of withdrawal of nominations is February 12.
Central Congress leaders have supported a pre-poll pact with NPF. “Any effort to keep the BJP at bay in Nagaland is welcome. We will go all out to ensure that the BJP does not open its account this time,” said Captain Praveen Davar, who is one of the four Congress observers deputed to the poll-bound state.
The BJP, which was part of the NPF-led Democratic Alliance of Nagaland (DAN) coalition, has now struck an alliance with the Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party, a party led by former chief minister and NPF rebel Neiphiu Rio. According to the agreement between the two, the BJP is contesting on 20 seats while the NDPP will fight in the remaining 40.
According to Nagaland chief electoral officer’s office, 231 candidates had filed their nomination papers but the final figure is still awaited.
In Meghalaya, which is also going to polls on February 27, 110 candidates filed nomination papers for the 60 seats on the last day of filing papers on Wednesday.
“Till Tuesday, 294 candidates had filed nomination papers. Another 110 filed their papers on Wednesday taking the total number of candidates to 304,” chief electoral officer FR Kharkongor said.