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Forum meeting on but Nagaland parties to skip

Kohima, Jan. 7: Political parties in Nagaland are set to boycott a meeting of the Joint Legislators’ Forum tomorrow amid Speaker Kiyanielie Peseyie’s claim that the meeting would go ahead as scheduled.

“We will have a meeting,” Peseyie said.

He said he was not informed that the political parties were planning a boycott. “I have not received any information,” he said.

When contacted, parties, including the main Opposition Congress, confirmed the boycott.

The BJP said it would not attend as Peseyie had put forward certain conditions like authorisation letters from party chiefs. “They have set conditions; so, we will not attend,” president of state unit of the BJP, M. Chuba Ao, said.

The Forum consists of 60 Naga legislators and was formed to facilitate the ongoing Naga peace process. It had resolved to pave the way for an honourable and acceptable solution to all sections of people, but recently in a U-turn, the Congress had demanded resignation of all 60 members from the Assembly before a solution was arrived at.

The Congress said resignation of all members would pave the way for a solution — an argument which was not accepted by the ruling Naga People’s Front (NPF). The NPF members said they would resign only after the solution.

The Congress leaders said they would not attend the meeting if the NPF members did not resign. Congress vice-president Nillo Rengma maintained that the earlier consensus decision of the Forum was taken when there were talks of an “alternative arrangement” and “interim agreement”. The situation had changed this time as the Centre now wanted a permanent solution to the Naga political problem, he said.

He denied reports that his party was backtracking from the decision of the Forum. Peseyie also refused to comment on the Congress’s decision. “You ask them, I do not want to comment,” he said.

But all is not well within the Congress either and there was clear indication of differences of opinion among party leaders as some wanted to attend tomorrow’s meeting and sort out the differences in the larger interest of the people.

BJP protest

The state unit of the BJP today staged a dharna and demanded an early settlement of the long-pending Naga political problem though the party has suffered a split. A group of BJP leaders, led by Mhalo Lotha and N. David Zeliang, today opposed the dharna stating that the party had never discussed such a programme and termed the faction led by president M. Chuba Ao as a “minor section of the party”.

The party has been facing threats of a rift for the past couple of days which is more visible now as party sources said disciplinary action would be taken against the dissidents.

Senior central party members would arrive in the state on January 9 to take stock of the prevailing situation in the party. Party sources had accused the rival group of working hand in glove with the ruling NPF. Despite the rift, several party workers took part in the dharna at Old MLA hostel and demanded an early settlement of the Naga political problem. At the same time, they lashed out at the ruling NPF and the Congress for not being able to meet the desire and aspirations of the Naga people. Chuba said 15 years of negotiations between the Centre and the National Socialist Council of Nagalim (Isak-Muivah) could be the longest negotiation in the history of India and demanded an early settlement of the problem.

“Naga people have suffered for many years but still there is no settlement,” he said. Chuba questioned the sincerity of the Centre to resolve the Naga issue. “If the government of India is sincere it would not take so much time to reach a settlement,” he added.

Chuba said the BJP would be the first political party in the state to stage a dharna to demand a solution to the Naga political problem.