Prafulla Kumar Mahanta (fourth from left) along with Nagaland chief minister Neiphiu Rio (third from left) and senior leaders of other regional parties of the Northeast after the meeting in Guwahati on Sunday. Picture by UB Photos
Guwahati, Oct. 20: Ten regional political parties of the Northeast today came together to form a common platform to raise the problems and issues concerning the region at the national level.
The common platform — christened Northeast Regional Political Front — was formed at a meeting of the regional parties organised by the AGP here today.
Former Punjab chief minister Surjit Singh Barnala inaugurated today’s meeting by lighting the lamp.
Besides AGP, the other constituents of the regional front are Nagaland Peoples’ Front (NPF), United Democratic Party, Hill State Democratic Party, Manipur Peoples’ Party, Manipur State Congress Party, Manipur Democratic People Front, Indigenous Peoples’ Front of Tripura, Peoples’ Party of Arunachal and Mizo National Front.
Nagaland chief minister and NPF leader Neiphiu Rio was selected chief convener of the front’s co-ordination committee while AGP working president Atul Bora will be its chief co-ordinator. The committee will have three representatives from each state.
AGP president Prafulla Kumar Mahanta has been appointed chief adviser of the front.
Rio said the front would have its head office in Guwahati.
Describing today’s deliberation as “fruitful”, Rio said 17 resolutions were adopted at the meeting.
One of the resolutions demanded that either the electronic voting machines (EVMs) be abolished or fitted with the vote verifiable paper audit trail (VVPAT) system as “EVMs are not foolproof and there had been instances of tampering with the voting machines, particularly by the Congress, in different states”.
Other important resolutions adopted today demanded redefining the Centre-state relationship in the spirit of true federalism through devolution of more powers to the state governments, repeal of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act in the region, permanent solution to the problems of illegal infiltration, insurgency and floods, among others.
The front offered to act as a facilitator to solve the insurgency problem and also expressed its concern over fencing of international border with Myanmar in Manipur by allegedly giving away a large chunk of land to the neighbouring country.
Asked whether the front will have any truck with the Congress or the BJP, Rio avoided a direct reply, saying, “Time will decide whether we will maintain equidistance or equal closeness with the two national parties.”
He also declined to comment whether the front would field common candidates in the Lok Sabha polls, saying a decision in this regard will be taken later.
The Nagaland chief minister said though winning the 2014 Lok Sabha polls is their immediate target, the main objective of the front is to safeguard the “territorial, cultural, social, political and economic interests of the region”.
“In future we will try to expand the front by including more regional political parties from the eastern region,” Rio said.
He stressed that a unified regional front is the need of the hour since the Centre looks at the Northeast as a single entity.