NPF joins ruling alliance to push for the Naga peace process
Nagaland will have an Opposition-less state Assembly for the second time after the Naga People’s Front decided to join the ruling alliance to push for an early solution to the Naga peace process.
Senior NPF leaders have confirmed the development, adding that the party will, however, maintain its identity.
Though the ruling NDPP welcomed the NPF proposal of an Opposition-less government at an emergency meeting held on Tuesday evening, it will consult its alliance partner BJP before taking the move forward.
The BJP has till now maintained a studied silence while the Opposition Congress claimed the move was aimed at delaying a solution to the Naga political problem.
Asked about the decision to join the government, NPF secretary general Achumbemo Kikon told the media: “Correct… correct. We have a consistent stand on the Naga peace process... to expedite the Naga peace process. We were there and we are still there supporting the government. Towards that endeavour an idea was mooted to form an Opposition-less government to push the Naga peace process to a logical conclusion....”
The ruling People’s Democratic Alliance (PDA) comprises the Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP) and the BJP, which unseated the NPF in the 2018 Assembly elections.
In the 60-member Assembly, the ruling alliance has 34 members — NDPP 20, BJP 12 and 2 Independent MLAs, while the Opposition NPF has 25 legislators. One seat is vacant.
Asked when the move would be concretised, Kikon said: “The party has endorsed the legislature wing’s concept of an Opposition-less government... to discuss, deliberate on it and come up with the possibility of working with the present government to expedite the process.... We have to go a little steady…. The final shape will hopefully emerge within a week’s time. The NPF will, however, maintain its separate identity both within and outside the Assembly.”
NPF legislature party spokesperson Imkong L. Imchen said the decision was taken on Monday at the Dimapur residence of leader of the Opposition T.R. Zeliang to facilitate an early solution to the Naga peace process.
Though the government and the Naga National Political Groups (NNPGs) claim that the peace talks concluded in October 2019, the NSCN (I-M) has asserted there cannot be any forward movement without a favourable decision on their twin demands for a separate flag and constitution. The NSCN (I-M) and the government have been in a ceasefire since 1997.
This is the second time after 2015 that the state will be without an Opposition in the Assembly if the move materialises. In 2015, all the eight Opposition Congress MLAs had joined the NPF, which headed the Democratic Alliance of Nagaland (DAN) government.
The then Zeliang government included 46 MLAs from the NPF, four from the BJP, one each from the JDU and NCP and eight Independents. The council of ministers cannot exceed 12 in the 60-member House.
Like Kikon and Imchen now, Zeliang had said in 2015 that an Opposition-less Assembly would boost the ongoing Naga peace process.
The NPF decision came on the eve of the scheduled meetings between the recently formed Core Committee on Naga Political Issue with the working committee of the NNPGs on Tuesday and the NSCN (I-M) on Wednesday.
Headed by chief minister Neiphiu Rio, the core committee, formed in June, has MLAs from all parties. At the meetings, the NNPGs will be led by its convener N. Kitovi Zhimomi, while NSCN (I-M) will be represented by its general secretary Th. Muivah.
The committee had mooted “one solution, one agreement” to the one of the oldest insurgencies in the world.