Naga Assembly elections on row to boycott

Guwahati: A joint declaration in this regard was signed by leaders of 11 parties, including the ruling Naga People’s Front (NPF) and the BJP and Congress, at a meeting called by the Core Committee of Naga Tribal Hohos and Civil Organisations (CCNTHCO) in Kohima.

“We firmly believe that it is expedient for all political parties, both national and regional, to come together in the greater interest of the state in solidarity with the call ‘Solution before Election’ and defer the elections to the 13th Nagaland legislative assembly and allow the Naga political process to reach its logical conclusion by giving space and time to negotiating groups to bring out an early solution,” the declaration stated.

Sources in the BJP told Scroll.in that the party’s National General Secretary Ram Madhav and Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju were at Chief Minister TR Zeliang’s home in Kohima to discuss the matter. Zeliang had said on Sunday that the Naga People’s Front would stay away from the elections if other parties did so.

Nagaland Chief Minister TR Zeliang | IANS

 

 

The influential Naga Hoho, which represents the 16 major tribes in the state, and other civil organisations had earlier urged the election commission to defer polls till a ‘final solution’ to the Naga issue is found.

The Centre had signed a framework agreement with National Socialist Council of Nagaland (Isak-Muivah), the most prominent of the several Naga rebel outfits, in 2015. The component of the deal hasn’t been made public yet.

The NSCN (I-M) has been demanding integration of Naga-inhabited areas in Assam, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh. But with Centre rejecting the demand, there is confusion as to what kind of a ‘final solution’ can be expected.

While most parties agreed to the call, the ruling Congress filed nominations from all seats at the last moment leading to 59 of its candidates winning from the total 60 seats in the state assembly.

However, postponing the elections would not be an easy task. As per rules, a scheduled election can be stopped only through constitutional amendment and “only in extraordinary circumstances”.

The other groups supporting the poll boycott are: NSCN (Unification), National National Council (NNC/FGN), NNC (Parent Body), NPGN/NNC (NA), NSCN (R) and NNC/GDRN (NA).

The powerful tribal bodies and civil society organisations have been demanding signing of the Naga peace deal before the elections. With the latest declaration of boycott of elections, political uncertainty prevails in Nagaland.

In 2015, the Naga peace accord was signed between the Centre and the NSCN-IM. Since then residents of Nagaland have been hopeful that peace will finally arrive in the state.

(complied by Ayesha Roy from Hindustan Times, Scroll and News18.com)