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Cracks in Naga People’s Front as Manipur unit defies diktat to pull out of BJP-led govt

Manipur unit of the Naga People’s Front says it will also meet in the BJP-led North East Democratic Alliance conclave in Guwahati even as senior NPF leaders from Nagaland have decided to stay away.

india Updated: May 20, 2018 22:52 IST
Sadiq Naqvi
Sadiq Naqvi
Hindustan Times, Guwahati
Naga People’s Front,NPF,North East Democratic Alliance
Naga People’s Front president and former Nagaland chief minister Shurhozelie Liezietsu. (PTI)

Cracks are appearing in the Naga People’s Front (NPF) with its Manipur unit saying that it has no problems with the BJP-led Manipur government and will continue to be a part of it despite NPF president and former chief minister of Nagaland Shurhozelie Liezietsu’s diktat to withdraw support on Friday.

The Manipur unit of the NPF has said that it has not received any official communication from party president.

In another clear sign of division in the party’s ranks, NPF’s Manipur leaders also took part in Sunday’s North East Democratic Alliance or NEDA (the BJP-led umbrella of regional parties) conclave in Guwahati even as senior NPF leaders from Nagaland decided to stay away.

BJP president Amit Shah attended the conclave along with other senior leaders of regional parties, including Nagaland chief minister Neiphiu Rio, Manipur’s N Biren Singh, Arunachal Pradesh chief minister Pema Khandu, Meghalaya’s chief minister Conrad Sangma, Biplab Deb from Tripura. Sikkim chief minister Pawan Kumar Chamling didn’t turn up at the conclave and deputed state’s lone MP Prem Das Ray.

“We have read it in the papers. But there is no official communication,” said Awangbow Newmai, who heads the NPF in Manipur and is one of the four NPF MLAs who have lent support to the N Biren Singh-led coalition government.

“We have no problems with the Manipur government we will continue to be a part of it,” Newmai insisted.

The BJP has 21 seats in the 60–member house, the NPF and the National People’s Party have four each. The LJP and Trinamool Congress have once each and there is one Independent MLA. The Congress is the largest party with 28 seats.

On Friday, Shurhozelie Liezietsu had said that there was no reason for the NPF Manipur to continue with the government.

The statement came after former chief minister and leader of the Opposition TR Zeliang, citing the political drama in Karnataka, came out against the Nagaland governor and asked why the NPF was not allowed to form the government even when it emerged as the single largest party with 26 MLAs. The Governor had invited the pre poll coalition of Neiphiu Rio’s NDPP and BJP with 30 MLAs to form the government. The coalition managed to cobble up the support of three other MLAs to take it past the majority mark.

Zeliang is expected to stake claim to form the government in Nagaland on Monday. “We are busy with by-polls. But we will approach the governor on Monday and ask him to invite us to form the government since we are the single largest party,” Sebastian Zumvu, NPF spokesperson said.

He also confirmed that the party president has asked the Manipur MLAs to withdraw support.

Asked if the NPF--which has been an ally of the BJP for the last 15 years till the recent Nagaland polls—has officially withdrawn from the NEDA, Zumvu says there is nothing official about it but “effectively the party is out of NEDA.”

He explained how the party is keeping a distance from the BJP and how NPF’s lone member of Rajya Sabha KG Kenye recently requested the Chairman of the House to allot him a seat in the opposition benches.

First Published: May 20, 2018 11:25 IST