Kohima, Feb. 28: The Naga People’s Front (NPF) registered a hattrick of wins today with 38 of the 59 seats for which elections were held, crushing main opposition Congress in the process.
Election for one seat was countermanded following the demise of P. Chuba Chang, Congress candidate from Tuensang Sadar-I.
The Congress which was optimistic of forming the government could get only eight seats while the NCP won four, the BJP one, the JD(U) one and Independents seven.
The results also ensured that the male domination of the Nagaland Assembly continued with the defeat of both the women candidates, Dr Yangerla Ao (Independent) from Mokokchung town constituency and Rakhila from Tuensang Sadar-II.
The NPF surged ahead early as the counting progressed and never paused as its juggernaut rolled on. So much so, that chief minister Neiphiu Rio addressed a press conference much before the counting came to a close.
Announcing his priorities he said the NPF would not require to look to anyone for support to form the government.
The Congress accepted defeat, but humility was missing as it warned that the people of the state would experience worse in the days to come. The party had sought to bring down the NPF on corruption.
The Congress has hardly anyone to blame for its misery given that it went to polls a divided house and not in a position to field candidates for all the 60 seats. In fact, it could not find a candidate for one of the seats in Kohima.
This election saw many veteran politicians being drubbed by first timers, prominent among them being former chief minister K.L. Chishi (Congress) by Tovihoto Ayemi of the NPF by 1,838 votes, former PCC president K.V. Pusa by Kropol Vitsu of the NPF by over 5,451 votes, power minister Doshehe Y. Sema of the NPF by Picto (Independent) by over 3,000 votes, Rajya Sabha MP Khekiho Zhimomi of the NPF by Jocab Zhimomi, and PHE minister Dr Nganshi K. Ao, who had resigned to contest on a Congress ticket, by Merentoshi R. Jamir, the youngest candidate in the fray.
Khekiho’s son Atomi also lost to Congress candidate Hukavi Sema from Zunheboto town constituency.
Some other big losers are forest and environment minister M.C. Konyak, school education minister Nyeiwang Konyak and former finance minister K. Therie (Congress).
Prominent winners are chief minister Neiphiu Rio, his brother Zhaleo Rio, Speaker Kiyanilie Peseyie, C. Apok Jamir (Congress), CLP leader Tokheho Yepthomi, PCC president S.I. Jamir and LoK Sabha MP C. M. Chang (NPF).
“The Congress in Nagaland accepts the verdict of the electorate. We thank the voters who have voted for us for their generosity of spirit by casting their conscience vote with boldness and courage inspite of numerous threats and intimidations,” Tokheho said. But a majority of the people, he added, had not cast their conscience vote but had voted for money.
He said the Nagaland Baptist Church Council had moved far and wide with their message of free and fair election but this had not been able to check malpractices.
He said money and arms seizure during elections proved that Nagaland was ruled by money and muscle power.
“I earnestly appeal to the Nagas not to lose their conscience in the interest of our future generations. This is the hour for Nagas to choose whether we should allow money and muscle power to rule the state, or whether the opportunity should be given to dedicated leaders who dream of a better Nagaland with a brighter future,” the CLP leader said.
He said 10 years of misrule under the NPF had damaged the Naga way of life beyond repair and people needed to introspect how and where the Nagas were heading for. The BJP said the result was on expected lines, while the NCP was jubilant at winning four seats.
The NPF, too, said it was on expected lines and that the mandate given to the party clearly reflected the people’s high hope on the NPF, which had delivered goods to them. The party promised all-round development, particularly in the backward areas.