As many as 10 political parties in Nagaland, including the ruling Naga People’s Front and the Bharatiya Janata Party, on Monday signed a bond saying that they would not contest the February 27 Assembly elections in the state.
On Sunday, the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (Isak-Muivah) and six Naga National Political Groups had said that several political parties support the demand by tribal bodies and groups not to hold elections in the state until there is a solution to the ongoing Naga peace talks with the government.
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.
The NSCN(IM) and the Naga National Political Group Working Committee issued a joint statement on Sunday, making clear their stance on the issue and warning those who try to “sabotage the historical process of negotiations by filing nominations and indulging in election process”. The Naga parties “appreciate all political parties, both national and regional, for responding positively to their plan of Solution before Election”, the statement added.
The Election Commission has not yet responded to the parties’ decision not to contest the polls.
The Naga peace talks
For decades, Naga rebel groups have been fighting for Nagalim or Greater Nagaland. The Centre has been in talks with NSCN(IM), the largest Naga rebel group, since 1997, when the group signed a ceasefire.
In 2015, these talks got a boost after Prime Minister Narendra Modi signed a “framework agreement” with the NSCN(IM). While details of the framework agreement have not yet been made public, it is believed to acknowledge the “uniqueness of Naga history and culture” in exchange for NSCN(IM)’s respect for the “primacy of the Indian constitution”.
In December, the Nagaland Assembly had asked the Centre to find a solution to end the crisis before the elections. Earlier in January, various organisations in the state had urged Modi to defer the Assembly elections in the state.