Updated: January 19, 2018 9:10:22 am
Amid strained relations with the ruling Naga People’s Front (NPF), the BJP says it wants a government that would help the Narendra Modi government take forward and amicably conclude the Naga agreement. The agreement has “progressed to a great extent”, says Ram Madhav, BJP general secretary who oversees the party’s Northeast affairs.
“In Nagaland, the BJP is keeping its options open at the moment. We are serious about bringing a stable and development-focused government,” Madhav said in an interview. “There are ministers who have taken oath four times in the last four, five years. We are looking at an option that will bring stability,” he added. “But most importantly, we are looking for a government that would help us in taking forward and amicably concluding the Naga talks that have progressed to a great extent. We need a government that will be helpful in concluding the Naga agreement which we want to conclude in all seriousness as early as possible.”
The Centre and the NSCN(IM) had signed a framework agreement in August 2015, promising more flexibility for the efforts for peace. The outgoing government, in which the BJP is a partner, could not do much due to issues within the NPF, Madhav said. “We were a junior partner and the main role was that of the NPF. Whatever instability happened in the state in the last four years was due to internal problems of the NPF.” To a question, he added: “A stable government that is in tune with the central government will certainly be of great help in concluding the Naga accord early.”
According to sources, the BJP is looking at joining hands with the Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP). Neiphiu Rio, three-term former chief minister, has walked out of the NPF and reportedly joined the NDPP. The BJP is not expected, however, to announce a chief ministerial candidate for any of the three states going to polls.
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Madhav agreed that of the three Northeast states going to polls, Tripura would be the most crucial for the BJP. “The Tripura election will be the battle royale for us in this round of elections,” he said. Describing Left-ruled Tripura as one of the most backward states in the country, he said, “We firmly believe that Tripura deserves better and needs to throw out this government. That’s why we have given the slogan Chalo, paltai (Come, let us change),” he said.
In an expected straight fight with the CPM, the BJP plans to focus on issues such as unemployment, corruption and salary of government employees. “Tripura is one state that is still implementing the 4th Pay Commission… The BJP is promising that the day we come to power, within 24 hours we will implement the seventh Pay Commission.”
Madhav said his party is continuing talks with the Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura. “We are in favour of addressing the socio-economic grievances of tribals being championed and highlighted by the IPFT and other groups. As far as political unity is concerned, everybody including the IPFT will be committed to the territorial oneness of Tripura,”he said.
He claimed the BJP has bright prospects in Meghalaya too. “We already have four MLAs with us and there are many potential candidates to join [BJP]. We are hoping to win a good number of seats in Meghalaya to be able to be in power.”
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