The Bharatiya Janata Party has left a 15-year-old alliance in Nagaland with the Naga People’s Front, and is tying up with the Nationalist Democratic People’s Party, PTI reported on Saturday. So far, no party besides the BJP has announced it will contest the elections. On January 29, 11 parties including the BJP’s former ally, the Naga People’s Front, had said they would boycott the state elections.
BJP state media cell convenor K James Vizo said that the regional party NDPP will stand in 40 of Nagaland’s 60 Assembly seats, while the national party will contest from the remaining 20, PTI reported. He added that the decision to ally with the NDPP was made by national BJP President Amit Shah and its Nagaland president Visasolie Lhoungu.
The NDPP is led by former chief minister Neiphiu Rio, who was earlier a part of the Naga People’s Front.
Soon after the alliance was announced, the BJP on Saturday released the names of its 20 candidates.
The Naga peace talks
The parties that have boycotted the Nagaland polls have said they are doing so till the Naga peace talks conclude. 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.