BJP open to tie-ups in Nagaland
As the Election Commission of India (ECI) announced the dates for Assembly polls in Nagaland, Meghalaya and Tripura, the BJP said that it had kept its options open for allies in Nagaland and was looking to form a government that would be “helpful in concluding the Naga Accord amicably.”
The BJP general secretary in charge of the north-eastern States, Ram Madhav, told that the resignation of former Nagaland Chief Minister and Lok Sabha MP Neiphiu Rio from the ruling Naga People’s Party (NPP) to head the Naga Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP) had opened options for the BJP.
“In Nagaland, the BJP has kept its options open at the moment. We are serious about bringing a stable and development-focussed government in Nagaland. What happened in the last three-four years was that the government has changed at least three-four times, there are Ministers who have taken oath four times in the last five years. We are looking for an option which would help us in taking forward and amicably concluding the Naga talks, which have progressed to a great extent. In the present government [with the NPP], our party was the junior partner, and the instability was because of infighting within the NPP. A stable government which is in tune with the Centre will be helpful to the State at this time,” he said.
While the Naga elections are important to the Central government, considering the negotiations over the Naga Accord, for the BJP the real combat is in Tripura. “The contest in Tripura will be the battle royale in this set of elections. Tripura remains one of the most backward areas of this country, and therefore the current government needs to be voted out. The BJP has given the slogan Chalo Paltai which means ‘lets overturn/change this government’. The Left government is hugely unpopular with the people and is desperate,” he said.
Interestingly, the ruling Left Front has a vast cadre among the State government employees and it is this group that the BJP is angling in particular. “Tripura is one of the few States in the country, where government employees get paid under the 4th Pay Commission. We have already said that after we get elected, the next day itself we will implement the 7th Pay Commission in the State,” Mr. Madhav said.
He also said that the BJP’s talks with the Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura (IPFT) had not yet concluded, and added that the BJP was “in favour of addressing the socio-economic-cultural grievances of the tribals that are being championed by the IPFT and other groups as well” and that “as far as political unity of the State is concerned, everybody, including the IPFT, will be committed to the territorial integrity of Tripura.”
Mr. Madhav indicated that no chief ministerial face would be projected on behalf of the party in these States, leaving some hope for alliance partners.
“We have effective teams working in these States. We have a good number of new people who have joined the party in all these States. In Tripura, we didn’t have a single MLA, now we have seven MLAs, in Meghalaya also four MLAs have joined, and more are likely to join, in Nagaland we have four MLAs. So we have good local leadership which will work under the principle of collective leadership,” he said.
-NEW DELHI, JANUARY 18, 2018, THE HINDU