Nagaland’s NDPP welcomes opposition NPF offer to form all-party govt
KOHIMA: Nagaland’s main opposition party, Naga People’s Front (NPF), has offered to join Neiphiu Rio-led People’s Democratic Alliance (PDA) to form an all-party government to pursue an early settlement on the vexed Naga political issue, party leaders said on Monday.
NPF legislature party spokesperson Imkong L Imchen said the NPF legislators passed a resolution endorsing the concept of an opposition-less government in Nagaland at a marathon meeting on Monday evening.
“We have passed a resolution and endorsed it to the chief minister for necessary consideration, in the interest of the Naga political solution,” Imchen said. He said political parties in the state were on the same page on resolving the Naga issue, for which the government of India and different Naga armed groups were engaged in political dialogue.
Although Nagaland’s lawmakers are not directly involved in the peace talks, elected members over the years have held that they will play a facilitating role in the settlement of the issue.
The senior NPF legislator said with the peace talks reaching a crucial stage, the party felt it was essential for lawmakers to come together in a common platform, transcending their respective political party lines.
While the ruling PDA is yet to make any official statement on the move by the NPF, Imchen said the NPF is expecting a positive response.
The Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP), the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and two independent MLAs, who comprise the PDA, are yet to discuss the NPF proposal, officials of the coalition said.
But NDPP, the major PDA partner, has already welcomed the move calling for unity amongst the members of the 13th Nagaland Legislative Assembly.
NDPP spokesperson Merentoshi R Jamir confirmed that the party leaders decided to welcome the NPF’s proposal at an emergency meeting on Tuesday but decided that since the party is part of a coalition, it will consult coalition partner BJP before taking the matter forward.
Nagaland BJP leaders and party ministers were not available for comment.
The only other time when Nagaland didn’t have an opposition party was in 2015 during the third tenure of the NPF-led Democratic Alliance of Nagaland (DAN) when the opposition’s Congress MLAs joined the government and subsequently merged their party with the NPF.
This time, NPF MLAs insisted that they will not merge their party. “We are talking about an all-party government, a coalition, where we will maintain our respective party ideologies,” says a senior NPF legislator.
Recently, the Nagaland government notified the formation of a parliamentary committee comprising the state assembly’s 60 lawmakers and two Nagaland MPs. This panel, led by chief minister Rio, deputy chief minister Y Patton and opposition leader TR Zeliang, was stated to act as facilitators in the ongoing peace talks between the Centre and Naga armed groups.
At its first meeting on July 9, the committee committed that the elected members were prepared to “pave the way” when an inclusive, honourable and acceptable solution is arrived at.
The Isak-Muivah faction of the National Socialist Council of Nagalim (NSCN-IM) entered into a ceasefire agreement with the government of India in 1997 and the two have been holding political dialogue since then. A conglomeration of seven Naga national political groups (NNPGs) also started talking with the Centre in 2017.
The Centre had signed a “framework agreement” with NSCN (IM) in 2015, and an “agreed position” with the NNPGs in 2017. However, the NSCN (IM)’s demand for a separate Naga flag and constitution has been a delaying factor in signing a final deal on the Naga peace process. The talks were suspended in April due to the prevailing Covid-19 related situation and are yet to be resumed.
Chief minister Rio and opposition leader TR Zeliang will hold meetings with leaders of the NNPGs and NSCN (I-M) over the next two days, leaders from the two parties said.