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Region factor

Battered local parties pass Rio the torch

Rio and Mahanta

Guwahati/Tura, May 16: Regional parties in the Northeast may have taken a battering this election but they continue to rally with the torch of regionalism now being handed over to Nagaland chief minister Neiphiu Rio, who will be the face of the front in Delhi.

Out of total 24 seats in the seven northeastern states, the constituents of the North East Regional Parties Front (NERPF), a conglomeration of 11 regional parties of the region with Rio as its convener, managed to win only two.

One was Rio himself who won the lone Lok Sabha seat in Nagaland and the other was former Lok Sabha Speaker P. A. Sangma of the National People’s Party (NPP) who won from Tura parliamentary constituency in Meghalaya.

One of the key constituents of the front, AGP could not even open its account.

The NERFP has empowered Rio to take a decision on behalf of the front on whom to support at the Centre for a stable government. With Rio and Sangma pledging their support to Narendra Modi, now the onus will be on them to keep the flame of regionalism burning in Delhi.

Announcing support to the BJP, Rio said it was doing so to enable the establishment of a stable government at the Centre.

“Nagaland CM Neiphiu Rio has conveyed this message through a letter to me. I am thankful to him for the NERPF’s support to the NDA,” BJP president Rajnath Singh wrote on Twitter.

The NERPF at its meeting held in Guwahati on Tuesday adopted a resolution appreciating Rio for “extensive campaign” conducted by him “throughout the region” which, according to the resolution, has “united the masses of the region in an emotional manner”. It, thus, endorsed Rio’s leadership and projected him as the “most recognised and tallest leader of the Northeast”.

At the meeting, Rio extended appreciation to all affiliates of the front for the “joint manner” in which the elections were fought and called for continuous unity and solidarity of the regional forces even after the election process is over.

He also stated that the constituents of the front have to combine “our forces together and raise a common voice”.

He reiterated his “full commitment” to work for the people of the region and said he would leave no stone unturned to strengthen the Front.

Rio maintained that they had come together because Delhi sees the seven northeastern states as a single entity.

P.A. Sangma, on the other hand, today said in Tura that he had also met Modi and extended support to him but will not bargain for any portfolio since it is the prerogative of the Prime Minister. He also praised Modi saying that he has a clear vision to take the country forward.