A month after the Opposition joined hands with the government in Nagaland, the state’s legislators have decided to call the new formation the United Democratic Alliance (UDA).
“The nomenclature of United Democratic Alliance (UDA) for the Opposition-less government in Nagaland has been unanimously approved by the legislators and party leaders of NDPP, BJP, NPF and Independent MLAs,” chief minister Neiphiu Rio tweeted on Saturday evening.
The nomenclature of United Democratic Alliance (UDA) for the Opposition-less Government in Nagaland has been unanimously resolved by the legislators and Party leaders of the @NDPPofficial, @BJP4Nagaland, NPF and Independent MLAs. pic.twitter.com/TDdWC4mKBP
— Neiphiu Rio (@Neiphiu_Rio) September 18, 2021
On July 19, the Opposition party, Naga People’s Front (NPF), submitted a letter to chief minister Rio requesting for an all-party government to help reach an early settlement of the Naga political problem. In August, the Rio-led People’s Democratic Alliance (PDA) — which comprises the National Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP), with the support of the BJP and two Independents — passed a joint five-point resolution with the NPF, saying that the political parties shall “aim at promoting the Naga Peace Talks with a positive approach in the greater interest of achieving peace”.
The Naga movement is considered India’s longest-running insurgency. In 1997, the Centre signed a ceasefire agreement with the largest Naga rebel group, National Socialist Council of Nagalim (NSCN-IM). In 2015, renewed negotiations for a solution to the Naga political problem began between the NSCN-IM and the Centre under Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Since then, seven other Naga armed outfits, under the banner of the Naga National Political Groups (NNPGs) have joined the talks. While formal talks are said to have concluded in October 2019, they are yet to yield a final agreement with the NSCN-IM holding on to its demands for a separate Naga flag and Constitution.
The legislators will now write to the assembly Speaker for the formation of the UDA. “As of now, we have not discussed the allocation of portfolios. That is the prerogative of the chief minister,” government spokesperson Neiba Kronu told The Indian Express. He added that the “main aim” of the UDA was the resolution of the Naga peace process.
A government source said that the portfolios would remain the same in all likelihood. “Yesterday’s announcement in nomenclature was a formality,” said the source, adding that the decision was made in July itself. “However, the Centre did not greenlight it until recently. While they were keen that all parties be part of the parliamentary committee, formed to solve the Naga political issue, they had not warmed up to the idea of an all-party government because they were apprehensive that such a step would reduce the power of the BJP in the state,” he said. In June, the Nagaland government had notified the formation of a parliamentary committee to discuss the Naga political issue, which comprised all 60 members of the state assembly, as well as the two Nagaland parliamentarians.
The source added that Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, who is North-East Democratic Alliance convenor and the face of the BJP in the northeast, was “instrumental in ensuring that there were no hitches” in the “transition to the UDA”. Sarma is set to visit Dimapur on September 21 to hold talks with NSCN(I-M) chief Th Muivah. “He will also hold talks with the BJP and NDPP to discuss the new political developments,’ the source said.
Following the new political development, former bureaucrat and peace talks interlocutor RN Ravi was made the governor of Tamil Nadu. He also served as the Nagaland governor for over two years till September 9. It is not clear if he will continue to be the interlocutor for Naga talks.