Kohima: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Monday said it would form the government in Nagaland with its pre-poll alliance partner Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP) and ruled out extending support to its 15-year-old ally Naga People’s Front (NPF), which emerged as the single largest party in the assembly polls.
After meeting senior NDPP leader Neiphiu Rio in Kohima, BJP leader and Assam finance minister Himanta Biswa Sarma told newsmen that his party was no longer in alliance with the NPF that had been in power in the state since 2008.
“We will go with the Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP)," Sarma said. He also advised incumbent chief minister T.R. Zeliang to “resign gracefully respecting democratic norms". Commenting on Sarma’s statement, the NPF said it was a “unilateral decision" of the BJP.
The BJP bagged 12 seats, while its ally NDPP won 17 seats in the 60-member assembly. The NPF became the single largest party with 27 seats. Two seats went to the National People’s Party (NPP), and one each to the Janata Dal (United) or JD(U) and independent.
Stating that the resolution of the Naga political issue was the top priority of the NPF, party spokesperson Achumbemo Kikon told PTI, “In the interest of the peace process, the NPF had decided to reaffirm the alliance with the BJP and we want to continue the alliance."
He said the NPF has won 27 seats and combined with the 12 seats won by the BJP, “We will be able to provide a stable and strong government to the people of the state." Asked whether the BJP’s decision to sever ties with the NPF would impact their relationship in Manipur, where four NPF legislators are part of the BJP government, Kikon said, “The NPF will have to revisit the decision".
Kikon said the incumbent chief minister Zeliang is in close touch with the BJP high command and “we still hope good sense will prevail on the BJP leaders". He said the mandate of the Naga people in electing 27 NPF candidates is a clear indication that Nagas prefer and support the leadership of Zeliang over Neiphiu Rio as the NDPP had won only 17 seats.
“Being a national party, if the BJP does not consider the possibility of providing a stable and strong government by continuing the alliance with the NPF, it is up to them," the NPF spokesperson said. Himanta Biswa Sarma, however, said, “We cannot go back to the NPF as we had gone to the people in the Assembly election with the pre-poll alliance with the NDPP."
Kikon expressed resentment over the recounting of votes in Tening seat after NPF candidate Namduadi Rankau Zeliang was declared elected by 32 votes and the returning officer had handed over the winning certificate to him.
“But later NDPP candidate Namri Nchang was declared winner after recounting of votes without the presence of NPF polling agents and the candidate. We, therefore, will continue to claim that the NPF has won 27 seats," Kikon said.
on Sunday, both Rio and Zeliang had met governor P.B. Acharya and claimed to have the support of the majority of MLAs. Acharya had told reporters that Rio and Zeliang have claimed to have majority support, but “I have not invited anyone to form the government as of now. I have given them 48 hours time to submit the signatures of the elected members supporting them".
“As the constitutional head, my duty is to see who has the majority and call him to form the new government. Whoever brings the signatures of more than 30 elected members I will accept," he had stated as the political situation in the state became fluid.