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In Nagaland, BJP’s alliance gamble pays off, party set to form govt

The BJP broke partnership with NPF and joined hands with the NDPP for the election. However, the NPF is still part of a BJP-led north east umbrella group of regional parties. With a lead in around 10 seats, the BJP will be vital to the new government, irrespective of which party wins.

Nagaland Election 2018 Updated: Mar 03, 2018 23:26 IST
Kumar Uttam
Kumar Uttam
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Nagaland election,BJP,BJP in Nagaland
Bharatiya Janata Party supporters celebrate the party’s win in Tripura, in Agartala on March 3, 2018. In Nagaland, the BJP has a lead in around 10 seats.(AFP)

The Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party and the Bharatiya Janata Party alliance looks set to form the next government in Nagaland, the home to India’s oldest insurgency.

“In Nagaland NDPP-BJP alliance has secured 30 seats. With the support of 1 independent we are comfortably placed to form d government,” BJP general secretary Ram Madhav wrote on Twitter. The alliance’s CM-candidate Neiphiu Rio met Madhav in Agartala later in the evening in discuss government formation. BJP chief Amit Shah said the party’s rise in Nagaland is phenomenal and jump in its vote share impressive.

The BJP had chosen the fledgling NDPP over its existing ally, the ruling Naga People’s Front. The NPF continues to be part of the BJP-led North East Democratic Alliance and the BJP had two ministers in the outgoing government.

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BJP insiders say the decision to ally with the NDPP was driven by two considerations.

First, the party wanted to increase its footprint in Nagaland, which could not have been possible without contesting more seats in the state, and the NDPP was offering them a better deal. Rio is considered the tallest leader of the Nagaland and the BJP expected to ride his goodwill to make inroads in the state. The BJP had fielded candidates in 11 constituencies in the 2013 assembly election, won one seat, and polled 19,121 votes for a vote share of 1.8%. By late evening on Saturday, the BJP had won 11 seats with about 1.5 lakh actual votes and a share of close to 15%. Some reports suggested the number could go up to 12.

Second, the BJP was not sure about how the NPF’s internal dynamics would play out, with Nagaland chief minister TR Zeliang and party president Shurhozelie Liezietsu engaged in a turf war in the run up to the polls. “Both wanted to ally with BJP and cut the other to size. We did not want to get into this tug-of-war,” said a BJP general secretary, who asked not to be named.

When former chief minister Rio quit the party this January and moved to the NDPP, significantly broadening the political landscape of the state, the BJP chose him as its ally. Rio, a Lok Sabha MP fro Nagaland, is a former NPF leader who quit his party and joined the NDPP on January 17. The BJP announced a poll deal with him on February 3.

First Published: Mar 03, 2018 19:01 IST