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Opposition finds way to hit back

- Congress, NCP hope to cash in on anti-incumbency factor

Kohima, Jan. 27: Opposition parties are trying to explore all possibilities to take advantage of the situation as the winds of anti-incumbency sweep across the state and the popularity of chief minister Neiphiu Rio seems to be declining.

The Congress, which was battered by internal disturbances for quite some time, has claimed to have flocked its sheep together to take full advantage of the anti-incumbency factor for the February 23 polls. The party would take advantage of the declining popularity of Rio by deploying its top-brass in the state for campaigning.

The team would be led by UPA chairperson and Congress president Sonia Gandhi, Prime Minister Mamohan Singh, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde, Sachin Pilot and a host of Congress leaders.

“Soniaji will be the first to campaign in the state,” former leader of the Congress Legislature Party (CLP), I. Imkong, said.

Former chief minister S.C. Jamir is also expected to campaign for the party.

The Congress leader said there would be the anti-incumbency factor and it will try to explore all possibilities to take advantage of that. He said the winds of change are in favour of the Congress this time.

The Congress and other political parties said the ruling Naga People’s Front (NPF) has no issue to take to the people this time. They are of the view that the popularity of Rio has diminished because of corruption and bad governance.

The NPF conceded that the anti-incumbency factor would be present in some pockets of the state.

The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), which is trying to consolidate its position in the state, said there would be about 70 pert cent anti-incumbency factor in the state.

President of the party’s state unit, Neiba Ndang, was certain that there would be anti-incumbency factor this time, as people wanted a change and political parties are working on that line.

He said people have seen the manner and style of the NPF’s governance, adding that there is a need to change and deliver the goods to the people.

The NCP has requested Union agriculture minister Sharad Pawar to campaign for its candidates and is awaiting his nod. Ndang said other top NCP ministers and leaders, however, would campaign in the state. The party has already cleared five constituencies but the party president said there are more applicants whose names would be cleared by tomorrow and the final list would be out by Wednesday or thereabouts.

The BJP, currently an ally of the NPF, had criticised the latter for bad governance and corruption too.

Sources in New Delhi said there was anti-incumbency factor in the state but money power would play a major role in this election too.

The political parties are expected to approach the people with a long list of instances of bad governance and corruption of the 10-year-old NPF-led Democratic Alliance of Nagaland (DAN) government.

The star campaigners for the NPF would be chief minister Neiphiu Rio, who will cover districts like Mokokchung, Zunheboto, Mon, Kiphire, Tuensang and Longleng, while party president Shurhozelie Liezietsu will lead party leaders to campaign in Phek, Wokha, Peren, Kohima and Dimapur. Rio will also campaign in Kohima and Dimapur.

The Congress has released the names of 51 candidates, and the final list is expected within a couple of days.

The NPF is also expected to release the names of its candidates by tomorrow.