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Keep off communal politics: NSCN to BJP

The NSCN warning comes at a time when BJP is desperately trying to make political inroads into Christian-dominated North-East.

india Updated: Feb 20, 2003 13:04 IST

National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN) has warned the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) against playing communal politics in the run-up to Assembly elections.

"We would like to make it very clear that the Nagas would not tolerate any political party trying to rake up religious issues during electioneering," K Mulatonu, publicity chief of the S S Khaplang faction of the NSCN, told IANS by telephone from Mokokchung, Nagaland.

"The BJP and its frontal organisations like the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) should particularly refrain themselves from vitiating the peaceful communal fabric in Nagaland during campaigning," Mulatonu said on Saturday.

Nagaland and Meghalaya - both predominantly Christian states - are among two other Indian states that go to the polls on February 26.

The NSCN warning comes at a time when the BJP is desperately trying to make political inroads into the Christian-dominated North-East before the polls.

The BJP had come to a pre-poll understanding with the main opposition Nagaland People's Front (NPF). But within days, the NPF pulled out of the alliance, apparently under pressure from tribal councils and the powerful church.

The BJP, however, maintains it is having "friendly contests" with the NPF in some seats.

"Some of the regional parties have become real tools at the hands of the BJP and they are doing so for money and power only," the NSCN rebel leader said.

"The BJP is being openly backed by the NSCN (Isak-Muivah) group. But the Nagas know how to defend themselves from such nefarious designs."

More than 90 percent of Nagaland's 1.9 million population and an estimated 65 percent of the total 2.3 million people in Meghalaya are Christians.

"Positive secularism is what the BJP stands for," said V Satish, BJP leader in-charge for the North-East. "Peace, stability, good governance, and anti-corruption would be our primary focus."

The BJP's political presence in the North-East is virtually non-existent, but the party has started an aggressive political manoeuvring to reverse the trend.

"Like in other states, the BJP in Nagaland is trying to play divisive electoral politics on religious lines. But people in the state cannot be taken for a ride by the BJP's gimmicks," Nagaland Chief Minister S C Jamir told IANS.

The ruling Congress led by Jamir received a major boost ahead of the elections with party president Sonia Gandhi addressing a series of election meetings in the state on Friday accusing the BJP of communalising politics in the region.

"The BJP has caused communal tension in the northeastern states where people had been living in harmony. We caution you all not to rally behind communal forces like the BJP," Gandhi had said during a poll meeting in Dimapur, the commercial hub of Nagaland.

The NSCN, fighting for an independent tribal homeland, is split into two major factions - one led by Khaplang and the other headed by Isak Chishi Swu and Thuingaleng Muivah.

Both the groups are currently observing a ceasefire with the Central government.

First Published: Feb 15, 2003 16:25 IST