Major political parties in Nagaland on Monday agreed to come together and form an all-party government in the state with an aim to resolve the decades-old Naga conflict.
The state’s ruling Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party, its ally Bharatiya Janata Party and the Opposition Naga People’s Front have signed an agreement stating that they would aim to move forward under a positive environment for finding a political solution to the conflict.
The agreement noted that the parties have endorsed the concept of a united government for this purpose. The new government will be called the Nagaland United Government, they said.
Chief Minister Neiphio Roy said he was happy that political parties in Nagaland have together for the resolution of the conflict.
For over six decades, Naga nationalists have fought the Indian state for a sovereign ethnic homeland that would include Nagaland as well as the Naga-inhabited areas of Manipur, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Myanmar across the border. Over the decades, the Naga armed movement split into several factions.
The agreement signed on Monday stated that the three parties would appeal to all Naga political groups to “make serious efforts towards unity and reconciliation”. It also stated that the parties will “encourage and impress upon the Government of India and all the negotiating parties to bring about the solution to a logical conclusion at the earliest”.
Commenting on the agreement, Leader of Opposition TR Zeliang said that he was “confident that the elected members will make a positive impact to achieve a solution to the long pending Naga political issue”.
“I welcome the pragmatic and sagacious decision of NDPP [and] Central BJP leadership,” he said.
A report in The Indian Express quoted unidentified officials as saying that the development has its roots in a meeting some months ago among Union Home Minister Amit Shah, Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio and Zeliang. During the meeting, Shah had reportedly asked the parties to work together in order to facilitate the peace process.
While the NPF is currently in the Opposition camp, it is the single largest party in the 60-member state Assembly with 25 MLAs. The NDPP and BJP have 20 and 12 MLAs. The Assembly also has two Independent legislators. One NDPP MLA, Toshi Wungtung, died on July 1, and the Assembly seat is currently vacant.
There may be a minor cabinet reshuffle to induct a couple of senior NPF MLAs, including Zeliang, according to the Hindustan Times.
On July 19, Rio had appealed to political parties in the state to put up a united front to solve the Naga conflict. On the same day, the NPF had passed an unanimous resolution calling for unity among all members of the state Assembly.
Nagaland has had an all-party government in the past as well. A similar situation had emerged in the Nagaland Assembly in 2015, when eight Congress MLAs joined the ruling Democratic Alliance government led by Zeliang.
The MLAs, however, later joined the NPF. In November 2015, Speaker Chotisuh Sazo issued a notification recognising the legislators’ switch from the Congress to the NPF.