The Telegraph
Wednesday , March 26 , 2014
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Naga problem tops agenda

Kohima, March 25: The resolution of the Naga political problem is on top of the election agenda of both the Congress and the Naga People’s Front.

Congress candidate K.V. Pusa said if he wins, his top priority would be to expedite the ongoing Naga peace process between the Centre and the NSCN (I-M). NPF candidate and Nagaland chief minister Neiphiu Rio said his priority would be to pursue the Centre to reach an agreement with the outfit.

“We have had talks for 17 years and it should now reach a logical conclusion,” Pusa said. He also urged other militant groups to start talks with the Centre. He said the Naga political problem should be settled between the outfits and the Centre and not by the Nagaland government.

But Rio criticised the Congress-led UPA government of not being honest in their talks and assured to pursue the matter with the new government after the elections. Confident of winning the lone Lok Sabha seat from the state, Rio said BJP leaders have assured him they would settle the protracted Naga political issue if they come to power.

NPF sources said if Rio wins, his priorities would be to ask for sufficient funds and projects for Nagaland. Rio criticised the UPA government for a step-motherly treatment to the state. He has already bid an emotional welfare to the people of his Northern Angami-II Assembly constituency.

The BJP leaders have reportedly assured Rio of a cabinet berth if they form the government. But the leader of Congress Legislature Party, Tokheho Yepthomi, said Rio was trying to escape from charges of corruption during his rule. Pusa termed the NPF an “anti-Naga party” as it was hobnobbing with a “communal party” like the BJP. “I will work for the welfare and interest of minority communities. Nagaland has a majority of Christian population and the actions of the BJP are against minorities,” he said.

On the development front, Pusa said there should be equal distribution of wealth.

“In the guise of social transformation and women’s empowerment, false promises were meted out to women regarding the 33 per cent reservation of seats in the state Assembly and municipal councils,” Pusa said.

Former Congress MLA and a senior member of the PCC, Asu Keyho, said the party would come to power at the Centre.

Both the Congress and the NPF would kick-off their election campaign on Thursday, when AICC vice-president Rahul Gandhi will address a rally at Kohima and the NPF will organise a rally at Dimapur.