Rio party to alter name

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By OUR CORRESPONDENT in Kohima
  • Published 27.07.09
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Kohima, July 27: The ruling Nagaland People’s Front will rename itself the Naga People’s Front and expand its ambit to embrace all contiguous Naga-inhabited areas, in a move aimed at giving a boost to the Naga integration issue.

The move could eventually pitchfork the party in the Assembly elections in Arunachal Pradesh, mainly in the two Naga-dominated districts of Tirap and Changlang.

NPF spokesman Shilu Mar told The Telegraph today that the main purpose of the change in nomenclature “is an effort to accelerate the ongoing Naga integration process”, which has become the cause of an imbroglio between the Centre and the National Socialist Council of Nagalim (Isak-Muivah).

The NSCN (I-M) has been demanding the integration of the contiguous Naga-inhabited areas under one administrative umbrella, which would mean carving out a “Nagalim” encompassing large tracts of Manipur, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and even Myanmar.

While all the states have opposed the demand, Manipur has been the most vociferous against the NSCN (I-M)’s proposal.

“This decision is part of the Naga integration process,” Mar said.

The NPF’s central executive council and the members’ core committee, which will meet tomorrow at its central office here, will discuss the sixth amendment of the party’s constitution to change the nomenclature from “Nagaland” to “Naga”.

NPF president Shurhozelie Liezietsu and chief minister Neiphiu Rio will also attend the meeting, according to party sources.

In the 60-member House, the NPF has 32 members, supported by six Independents and two Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) MLAs.

Mar said the core committee members have met several Naga leaders from Manipur, Assam and Arunachal and they have all vowed to extend support to this venture in the larger interest of Naga people.

“We have meet all the top political leaders, organisations and tribal Hohos from Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh and Assam for the common political platform,” he said.

Mar said the NPF was committed to change the nomenclature in the larger interest of the Naga people, come what may. He said all senior party members supported the “minor” change.

“We have reached a consensus on this issue,” he added.

At present, the NPF leaders are not considering spreading their wings to Myanmar, as it is under military rule.

But chief minister Rio had repeatedly said Yangon must recognise the political aspirations of the Naga people.

The Opposition Congress has flayed the state government for interfering into the affairs of another sovereign nation.

The NPF, which is one of the oldest regional parties in the Northeast, said integration of Naga contiguous areas was a must to take forward the Naga peace process.

The Congress too supported the NPF’s stand and its allies.

Reactions are also expected from neighbouring states, particularly from Manipur, which is totally opposed to Naga integration.