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Nagaland polls: BJP joins hand with new regional party NDPP after seat-sharing talks with NPF fail

The much-anticipated announcement came after the seat-sharing talks with NPF, which has been in alliance with BJP in Nagaland’s DAN government for the last 15 years, fell apart

Written by Kallol Dey | Kohima |
Updated: February 4, 2018 12:14:04 am
BJP joins hands with NDPP for Nagaland Assembly poll Kiren Rijiju, who is also BJP leader in charge of Nagaland elections, said that NPF will continue to be a part of NDA and ruled out any enmity with NPF, saying that seat sharing didn’t work out.

Sweeping aside resentment of its Nagaland state unit leaders, the BJP on Saturday announced pre-poll alliance with Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP) for the February 27 Nagaland Assembly election. The much-anticipated announcement came after the seat-sharing talks with NPF, which has been in alliance with BJP in Nagaland’s DAN government for the last 15 years, fell apart. The BJP and NDPP on Saturday announced 20-40 seat sharing formula.

The boycott drama past, politicking has once again taken centrestage in poll-bound Nagaland with BJP, NPF and NDPP playing key roles. The drama witnessed an anti-climax on Friday when the BJP chose the underdog NDPP over NPF for pre-poll alliance. The BJP had been in constant talks with the NPF over seat sharing with the party’s central leaders but by Friday the bargaining apparently didn’t yield any favorable result for the national party and it went for the second best option, the Neiphiu Rio-led NDPP. Over the last few months, the BJP and the NPF seemed to have a love-hate relationship but it was clear that BJP central leadership was intent on going to the hustings with the NPF by its side. The NDPP with big player Neiphiu Rio, MP, Lok Sabha, as its chief ministerial candidate, always seemed a distant option.

But the 20-40 seat sharing deal didn’t go down well with the Nagaland BJP. Sources informed that the decision had been taken by the central leadership without taking most state leaders into confidence. Resentment was building up by late Friday with a large section of the state unit confident that BJP could go at it alone and emerge as single largest party in the February 27 elections. In a representation to BJP national president Amit Shah by the Nagaland unit general secretary, the state unit expressed its resentment on the seat sharing deal with a “newly formed Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP) which has no root in the grassroots level.” The representation stated that Nagaland BJP has 45 potential candidates seeking party tickets and “we are confident of achieving resounding success across the state much better than NDPP.”

Sources in Nagaland BJP informed that the state unit leaders were agitated with the central leadership decision. But the BJP chief whips apparently didn’t share in their party workers optimism.

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The air was cleared on Saturday afternoon when Union Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju, who is also the BJP man in charge of Nagaland elections, addressed a press conference at Guwahati with Neiphiu Rio by his side. Rijiju also said that NPF will continue to be a part of NDA and ruled out any enmity with NPF, saying that seat sharing didn’t work out.

In the run up to the Nagaland Assembly elections, fault lines within BJP – the central leadership and Nagaland state leadership had become evident. Sources confirmed that while one group had wanted to go with the TR Zeliang-Shurhouzelie combine NPF, the other opted for Rio-led NDPP. But with candidates, including a few big names from NPF and other parties shifting allegiance to the BJP, the confidence of the Nagaland unit had been bolstered. The state BJP leaders felt that if BJP decided to go alone, “there is more scope for legislators from the other parties to join BJP.

The seat sharing formula with NDPP also comes as a body blow to Nagaland BJP president Visasolie Lhounghu who was prepped up to take on Neiphiu Rio in his constituency Northern Angami-II. The NPF had just a couple of days ago declared that it would not contest from Tizit A/C in favour of BJP’s sitting MLA Paiwang Konyak and from Northern Angami-II were the state BJP president was expected to be fielded against Rio.

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