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Anti-incumbency factor hit Cong

Anti-incumbency factor and intra-party feud appear to have queered the pitch for Cong, which is losing power in Nagaland after 10 yrs of uninterrupted rule.

india Updated: Mar 02, 2003 21:37 IST

Anti-incumbency factor and intra-party feud on selection of candidates for the Assembly polls would appear to have queered the pitch for the Congress, which is set to lose power in Nagaland after 10 years of uninterrupted rule, but the party ascribes its poor showing to the threat and intimidation by underground elements.

The Pradesh Congress working president, Hokheto Sumi, told PTI if it were a fair contest between the Congress and the opposition parties without the threat factor, the party would 'definitely' have won another 15 seats to take its tally to at least 40.

The opposition parties, mainly constituents of the Democratic Alliance of Nagaland, asserted that an anti-Congress wave did sweep across the hills and valleys because of 10 years of its 'misrule'.

Out of 60 seats in the state Assembly, results have been declared for 58 constituencies with the Congress wnning 21, to emerge as the single largest party.

The Nagaland People's Front secured 19, BJP seven, Janata Dal (United) two, Nationalist Democratic Movement four, Samata Party one and Independents four.

The election results revealed that the NPF, as expected, made a clean sweep in the districts where regional forces are in play while the ruling Congress suffered a virtual rout in two out of three districts.

Mokokchung, Mon and Tuensang districts, where 30 seats were up for the contest, have been a Congress bastion ever since the party entered Nagaland in the late Seventies, but except for retaining seven out of 10 seats in Mokokchung district, the Congress could manage only six seats in other two districts.

The party, which was sure to retain at least two to three seats in Phek district, failed to retain a single seat and the NPF wrested four while the Samata Party, which made its maiden entry in Nagaland, won the other seat.

Out of five constituencies in Dimapur district, a stronghold of the party, the Congress could manage only a single seat while in Kohima district, having nine seats, the party suffered a drubbing as it could retain only two seats.

In the last Assembly election five years back, the Congress had got a walk-over from the opposition parties which did not participate following a boycott call by the NGOs whose rallying cry was "solution (to Naga problem) and not election".

The surprise of this election was the success of the BJP in breaking into the Christian-dominated state as it bagged seven seats.

Although the BJP and NPF along with others formed the Democratic Alliance of Nagaland, they failed to arrive at any seat-sharing adjustment. They, however, formulated a Common Minimum Programme, calling upon the people to vote for a change.

Though the BJP and NPF were pitted against each other in 32 constituencies, the two parties had adopted a "proper strategy" to ensure the return of the candidates having winning prospects which worked well.

In most of the constituencies, where both NPF and BJP candidates were in fray, the main fight was between the Congress and BJP or Congress and NPF.

While the NPF tried its level best to project the Congress as the "anti-Naga party" and a stumbling block in the on-going Naga peace process making a reference to the Pradesh Congress publication of a booklet "Bedrock of Naga Society", the BJP capitalised on the Naga peace talks in New Delhi.

But the Congress had questioned the NDA government's agenda behind holding of peace talks between NSCN (I-M) and the Centre just a month ahead of the Assembly elections in the state.

The party had also expressed its dismay over the cease-fire monitoring mechanism and role of security forces deployed for poll duty, maintaining that only state police and IRB personnel confronted the situation arising out of extensive intimidation by the undergrounds.

First Published: Mar 02, 2003 21:37 IST