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Nagaland to be without opposition as all parties say they back govt

ByAlice Yhoshü, Kohima
Mar 07, 2023 05:01 AM IST

The NPF is willing to stay in opposition, Kikon said, but if it was invited to come together for the greater interest of pressing for an early solution to the protracted Naga political issue, it will be willing to do so.

The Nagaland legislative assembly may not have any opposition for the second time in a row as the Neiphiu Rio-led Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP) and ally Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) prepare to form their second coalition government in the northeastern state after winning a majority of 37 out of 60 seats in the recently held assembly polls.

BJP National President JP Nadda, Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma and Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio meet with Union Home Minister Amit Shah, in New Delhi on Monday. (AN)

Various political parties were seen queuing up on Monday to extend their support to the new government.

The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), which emerged with the third highest seats at seven elected members, extended its letter of support to the NDPP-BJP alliance on Monday. The NCP has three former legislators and a former officer on special duty to the chief minister.

The National People’s Party (NPP), which won five seats and is a partner with NDPP (25 seats) and BJP (12 seats) in the North East Democratic Alliance (NEDA), was the first to extend its support for the new government.

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“As partners of NEDA, obviously we support the new government under the leadership of Rio. We have written a letter of our support to him on Saturday,” state NPP president Andrew Ahoto said. Three newly elected NPP members are former ministers who lost previously and made a comeback this time.

The once regional giant Naga People’s Front (NPF), which managed to win only two out of 22 seats it contested, did not rule out joining the new government.

“We were partners in the previous all-party United Democratic Alliance (UDA) with the NDPP and BJP. We’ve had preliminary meeting with the ruling dispensation. Let’s see how things unfold,” said party secretary general Achumbemo Kikon, who is also a freshly elected MLA.

The NPF is willing to stay in opposition, Kikon said, but if it was invited to come together for the greater interest of pressing for an early solution to the protracted Naga political issue, it will be willing to do so.

The Lok Janshakti Party-Ram Vilas (LJP-RV) and Ramdas Athawale-led Republican Party of India (RPI-A) with two MLAs each and partners of National Democratic Alliance (NDA) at the Centre, have also extended their support.

The lone Janata Dal-United MLA and fresh first time lawmaker Jwenga Seb from the newly created Tseminyu district, along with at least two out of four independents, have expressed their willingness to support the government.

However, the idea of another opposition-less government does not seem to sit well with the people.

“In a democracy, a check and balance is needed in governance. Unless legislators are called together to urge the different Naga nationalist groups to come together with a solution to the Naga political issue being one of the first agendas of the new government, another opposition-less government just for MLAs to be in ruling cliche will be meaningless and a mockery for the state,” said Dr Dietho-o Angami, a senior citizen and a medical practitioner.

“How I wish that Nagaland has a strong and functional government. An opposition-less government will certainly have negative consequences,” said Amba Jamir, an independent policy and development analyst.

Without an opposition, there will be no one to hold the ruling alliance to account for their actions, he said. “This will lead to a lack of accountability and more corruption, abuse of power and other consequences. We have seen in the past, an opposition-less government will mean there will be no diversity of opinions and ideas. Our policies and decisions may not reflect the needs and interests our people. Nagas may want a political solution, but that is not the only thing that the people want,” Jamir added.

“Not wishing to be in the opposition is unhealthy, which sadly has become a tradition in Nagaland. This tendency of dependence has only helped to produce a culture of dependence, and in the process killing the will to grow organically,” said senior journalist Imkong Walling. “This attitude only serves to imply that MLAs are only in electoral politics for wealth and power, and not for the people, who they claim to work for. They speak of self-reliance but they display no sign of trying to be self-reliant.”

For K Hinoca Assumi, principal of a private college in Kohima, an opposition-less government for a state like Nagaland might propel development with cooperation given by all the legislators, but the absence of checks and balance may prove dangerous if the government’s action does not correspond to public interest, which will lead to corruption and imposition of undemocratic policies.

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