In the poll bound Nagaland 11 political parties have decided to boycott the assembly elections, demanding a permanent solution for the seven decade old Naga insurgency that has crippled development in the state.
These 11 parties signed a “joint declaration” at a meeting convened by the Core Committee of Nagaland Tribal HoHo and Civil Organisations (CTNTCHOC), who pledged not to field candidates for the February 27th elections.
Elections in Nagaland are scheduled for February 27, followed by the counting of votes to commence on February 3rd with the entire poll process ending on February 5th.
The parties which signed the declaration are Naga People s Front, Congress, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Nationalist Democratic People’s Party, Nagaland Congress, United Nagaland Democratic Party, Aam Admi Party, National Congress Party, Lok Jan Party, Janata Dal (United) and National People’s Party.
The declaration came in wake of the demand made by the rebel groups including NSCN-IM, NSCN-K, who don’t want the elections to create hurdles in the ongoing peace process.
“It is expedient for all the political parties, both national and regional, to come together in the greater interest of the state…with the call ‘Solution before Election’ and defer the elections … and allow the Naga political process to reach its logical conclusion by giving space and time to the negotiating groups to bring out an early solution,” the joint declaration of the political parties stated.
In fact all political parties were keen on resolving the issue before the elections were announced.
The expediency of the peace agreement comes in the light of the broad agreement signed between Centre and the rebel group NSCN (IM), a representative of the six Naga rebel groups, in presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, hailed as a historic move.
The agreement was signed in 2015 outlining the modalities of peace process to arrest the Naga insurgency problem.
The Naga rebels initially claimed the ratification of their demand for a Greater Nagaland-comprising of parts of Assam, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh-promised under the agreement, later withheld by the centre due to eruption of protests across the states.
According to government sources the agreement signed was just a preliminary step towards negotiations for the final peace pact.
Latest news says that the BJP has bowed out of the declaration signed by the political parties, suspending two state BJP leaders Kheto Semaparty and Tsasepi Sangtam, for signing the declaration without consent.
State BJP chief Visasolie Lhoungou said that he had asked state executive council member Kheto Semaparty to attend the core committee meeting but not authorised to sign the joint declaration.
“We had authorised two party leaders to attend the meeting but had also said that if there is anything regarding the elections, the party’s national leaders should be consulted,” he said.
A copy of the joint declaration was given to the media by the convenor of CCNTHCO, Theja Therie, who stated that if the EC issued the official notification for voting on January 31st.
The core committee has also called for a bandh on the 1st February, the day for filing nominations.
CCNTHCO convenor Therie warned that any party which goes against the “Solution and Not Election” motto will be considered “anti-Naga”.
Meanwhile, Union Home Minister Kiren Rijuju who is also the BJP election in charge for Nagaland, went on a damage control mode saying ,”holding of timely elections is a constitutional process and the Central government is bound by the constitution.”
He further maintained that the centre fully understands the sentiments of the Core Committee of Nagaland Tribal Hohos and Civil Organisations and Narendra Modi’s government is fully committed to facilitating the peace talks once the elections are over.