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Parties wary of ‘integration’

Kohima, Jan. 21: Political parties in election-bound Nagaland are treading cautiously on the issue of integration of Naga-inhabited contiguous areas with Nagaland with the Manipur Congress even asking its counterpart in Nagaland not to include it in its manifesto.

The ruling Naga People’s Front (NPF) said the Naga integration issue was dear to all sections of Naga people, while the BJP said it would support any solution between the Centre and the National Socialist Council of Nagalim (Isak-Muivah) which would not disturb the country’s integrity. The Congress said the manifesto drafting committee of the party would discuss the issue.

The NPF said Naga integration was a fundamental stand of the party but was unsure whether it would include the issue in its manifesto.

The state unit president of the BJP, M. Chuba Ao, said the Centre has ruled out sovereignty and Naga integration and therefore, there was no point in discussing the issue, but added that it would support any solution that would not disturb the integrity of India. He, however, said the drafting committee of the common minimum programme of the Democratic Alliance of Nagaland (DAN), which consists of the NPF, BJP and JD (U), would see whether the demand of Naga integration would be met by the Centre.

“Naga integration is a common agenda of the Naga people,” said Abu Metha, a member of the core committee of the NPF. But he was not sure whether the issue would be included in the programme or the manifesto of the NPF. He said Nagas, including all Naga organisations, had supported the NPF over the issue. “The issue is very dear to the Nagas,” he added.

Metha said the Nagaland Assembly had passed four resolutions unanimously on Naga integration and all political parties were in favour of it.

Political parties in the state are busy drafting their manifestos to woo the voters for the February 23 elections. The parties have not yet started their election campaigns but according to NPF sources, chief minister Neiphiu Rio would lead the party leaders to campaign in the districts of Mokokchung, Zunheboto, Tuensang, Kiphire, Longleng and Mon, while NPF president Shurhozelie Liezietsu will campaign in Wokha, Phek, Peren and Dimapur.

Congress leader S.C. Jamir is likely to campaign in eastern Nagaland, once a Congress bastion (Tuensang, Mon, Longleng and Kiphire).

Naga militant groups have decided not to get involved in the Assembly elections.

The NSCN (Isak-Muivah), Federal Government of Nagaland (Singnya) and NSCN (Khole-Kitovi) have decided not to get involved in the elections and warned their cadres of severe punishment if their diktat was not followed.