The BJP on Saturday severed its 15-year-old alliance with the ruling Naga People’s Front (NPF) and forged an alliance with the newly formed Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP) headed by former chief minister Neiphiu Rio. Elections to Nagaland’s 60 Assembly seats are slated for February 27.
“We have forged an alliance with the NDPP and have arrived at an agreement on seat-sharing. NDPP will field candidates in 40 seats and the BJP in the remaining 20. We are also confident of winning the election and forming the next government in Nagaland,” Union Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju, who is the BJP’s in-charge for the Nagaland elections, said at a press conference in Guwahati on Saturday.
Lok Sabha member Neiphiu Rio, who shared the dais with Rijiju, said, “Unlike earlier NPF-BJP alliances, this is a well-worked-out pre-poll alliance. The new alliance will sweep the elections with an absolute majority.” Rio quit the NPF to join the new party only three weeks ago.
The NPF, however, accused the BJP of betrayal. “We were still in the process of discussing seats with the BJP when they suddenly announced their alliance with the NDPP. The BJP has betrayed us. The chapter is now closed and we are going to contest in all 60 seats,” NPF president Shurhozelie Liezietsu told The Sunday Express on phone from Kohima.
The NPF leader claimed that the BJP-NDPP alliance would not affect his party’s prospects. “The NPF is the only party in Nagaland which has a well-established grassroots network. The NDPP is very new. I don’t know whether it has been registered and recognised,” he said.
Union minister Rijiju, however, claimed that the BJP would continue its “friendship” with NPF. “We had talks with them on seat sharing, but it did not materialise. While we have come to an agreement with NDPP, the NPF will continue to be our friend,” Rio said.