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Rio, Pusa file papers

Kohima, March 20: Chief minister Neiphiu Rio and Congress candidate K.V. Pusa today filed their nominations for Lok Sabha polls in Nagaland scheduled for April 9.

Rio is a consensus candidate of the Naga People’s Front, the BJP and the JD (U), with support from the Nationalist Congress Party and eight Independent MLAs.

Pusa, former minister and former president of the Nagaland Congress, filed his papers accompanied by the leader of Congress Legislature Party, Tokheho Yepthomi, and other party leaders.

Pusa said he would provide a strong challenge to Rio in the election and if he wins, his priority would be to bring all militant groups to the negotiation table. He said the talks between the Centre and militants should not be with just one outfit and a permanent settlement of the Naga political problem could be achieved only if all outfits sit down for talks.

The Congress leaders today termed BJP as a communal party, which was dangerous to the country’s secular fabric and criticised Rio of hobnobbing with such a party. They also rebutted the NPF allegations that the Congress was anti-Naga.

Yepthomi said Nagaland was formed during a Congress regime and the first ceasefire between Naga militants and the Centre was signed in 1964 and the ceasefire with the NSCN signed during the party’s rule.

He said Rio had left the state with a huge deficit over Rs 2,000 crore during his time as chief minister.

Former Lok Sabha MP W. Wangyuh Konyak said Rio was trying to escape from charges of corruption by contesting parliamentary elections. “The Congress will fight this election against the corruption and lack of governance of the Rio-led government,” he said.