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NSCN-IM holds key to govt formation in Nagaland

The Congress has emerged as the single largest party with 21 seats, Nagaland People's Front (NPF) had won 19 and BJP seven.

india Updated: Mar 02, 2003 14:12 IST
Indo-Asian News Service
Indo-Asian News Service

Hectic political parleys are on in Nagaland to form the next government, with the ruling Congress' juggernaut cut short by a spirited opposition combine.

According to election officials, results in 57 of the total 60 assembly seats were declared, with re-polling in two constituencies to take place Monday, while the announcement of results in one seat was withheld on technical grounds.

A final picture would emerge by Tuesday evening, the officials said. The Congress has emerged as the single largest party with 21 seats, while the opposition Nagaland People's Front (NPF) had won 19 and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) seven.

Four seats each went to the National Democratic Movement (NDM) and independent candidates, while the Janata Dal (United) won two.

The opposition combine includes the NPF, the BJP and the JD (U), while the Congress and the NDM went alone in the polls.

The political equation does not favour either the Congress or the opposition alliance to form the government without the support of the independents and the NDM candidates -- now the virtual kingmakers in the formation of a new government in Nagaland.

"We are sure of forming the next government as two of the three seats for which results are yet to be announced will be won by our alliance candidates," V. Satish, the northeast BJP in-charge, told IANS.

"We are in touch with the independent candidates for their support and the response has been positive."

The Congress, on the other hand, has also been desperately trying to woo independents and the NDM candidates to prevent the opposition combine from staking claim.

But the key to any government formation in Nagaland lies with the Isak-Muivah faction of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN).

According to political experts, the opposition combine stands a better chance, with the NSCN-IM already issuing threats to independent and NDM candidates against supporting the Congress and directing other winners not to switch loyalties.

"The BJP has hijacked the Naga peace talks and has deliberately used the NSCN-IM to back the opposition alliance in the elections," said outgoing Nagaland chief minister and veteran Congress leader SC Jamir.

"We are still hopeful of forming the government as three results are yet to be announced. The NSCN-IM has already been threatening candidates of smaller parties and independents against supporting a Congress move to stake claim."

But the fact remains that whoever forms the government will not be able to provide stability with a wafer thin majority.

The victory of seven BJP candidates in predominantly Christian Nagaland is largely attributed to the peace talks held between the federal government and leaders of the NSCN-IM in January.

There was a general feeling among political analysts that the BJP would not be able to make political inroads into Nagaland because of its strong Christian leanings.

Non-Congress parties, especially the BJP, have consistently projected the success of the Naga talks as an achievement of BJP-led government in New Delhi and sought to derive advantage.

Both the NSCN-IM and BJP have dubbed Jamir as the main stumbling block in the Naga peace process.

First Published: Mar 02, 2003 14:12 IST