Kohima, March 19: The Naga People’s Front (NPF) will contest 12 seats in the Arunachal Pradesh Assembly election despite stiff opposition from the Students’ Union Movement of Arunachal.
Nagaland chief minister Neiphiu Rio, who will contest the parliamentary polls, said his party has decided to field 12 candidates in Naga-dominated areas in Arunachal Pradesh. He said the NPF, representing Naga people in the Arunachal Assembly, would help the community in the neighbouring state.
Rio has been stressing on bringing Nagas closer, also known as “emotional integration”, while striving for physical integration of the Naga-contiguous areas.
The NPF said it was the desire of the Nagas to come together and live under one administration.
However, the students’ organisation has accused the NPF of trying to divide Arunachal Pradesh and vowed to oppose the entry of the party in the state.
The NPF is optimistic about winning a few seats. It has four MLAs in the Manipur Assembly. Today, the party distributed tickets to Rio and Soso Lorho, NPF candidate from Outer Manipur.
During the party’s central executive meeting today, Rio thanked the party and the Democratic Alliance of Nagaland (DAN) for choosing him as their candidate. He said he has bigger responsibilities for Naga people in Delhi than being a chief minister. But he indicated that he was still ready to shoulder the responsibility of the state if the party demanded.
His statement did not go down well with some of the NPF leaders. There are apprehensions that Rio might choose to remain chief minister if the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) failed to come to power.
NPF president Shur-hozelie Liezietsu had closed the door on Rio when he had stated that his party would not commit a mistake by allowing MPs to contest state Assembly election before completing their tenure.
In recent years, former MPs like T.R. Zeliang, C.M. Chang and Khekiho Zhimomi were allowed to contest the state election before completing their tenure.
Rio’s priorities would be to expedite the Naga peace process and ensure faster development in the state. He said the BJP had assured him that the protracted Naga political problem would be resolved if the NDA comes to power. He accused the UPA government of being step-motherly to Nagaland.
Rio lauded the leadership of Liezietsu. Nagaland BJP president N. Chuba Ao and JD (U) president Mhojan Lotha also spoke in the meeting.