Split Looms In BJP-NPF Coalition In Nagaland; New Partnership Likely To Emerge


Former CM Nephiu Rio is also likely to form his own party and forge a new partnership with the BJP following rumours of a secret meeting with BJP national chief Amit Shah.

With Nagaland state assembly elections likely to be held in February 2018, coalition partners Naga People’s Front (NPF) and (BJP) seem to have fallen out with both ready to fight elections on their own.

Former CM Nephiu Rio is also likely to form his own party and forge a new partnership with the BJP following rumours of a secret meeting with BJP national chief Amit Shah.
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The NPF too declared earlier this week that it would not share seats at a public meet.
Rio had contested the state’s sole Lok Sabha seat and won. He then made TR Zeliang the CM of the Northeastern state. It is said that he aspired for a berth in Modi’s cabinet but was denied.

Last year, he tried to engineer a coup of sorts but failed and eventually suspended by the party.

In February 2017, Zeliang’s cabinet announced 33 percent reservation for women in the then upcoming elections to the urban local bodies. It turns out now that the BJP state chief in Nagaland had attended the cabinet meeting without consulting his partymen and had supported the decision.

This cabinet decision threw the state into turmoil and eventually Zeliang had to resign.
Rio again tried to become the CM and had held around 40 MLAs hostage in a resort but could not make the final signoff. Being suspended, he was not allowed into the legislature party meet and Zeliang was able to push for a candidate of his choice – Shὒrhozelie Liezietsu – who became the CM.

Rio, it seems has not given up and is likely to form his own party. He pulled the NPF through three elections while Zeliang doesn’t have that experience. Sources revealed that Rio bypassed Ram Madhav (who has charge over Nagaland) and met Amit Shah directly. Over two meetings there were discussion to forge a new partnership between Rio’s new outfit and the BJP.

With a national surge towards the BJP, it could work in the party’s favour in Nagaland as well. But, it may not be as smooth for the BJP, which may not see any support from the church and has lost the war on perception on the beef ban.

The controversy over consuming beef in the country has played badly for the BJP, which, till now, has relied on the popularity of individual leaders to win the seats in Nagaland.
BJP state unit in turmoil.

In the meantime, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders in Nagaland have also written to party chief Amit Shah asking for a change in the party’s state unit leadership.

Promising to win the next elections with a large majority, they’ve asked the central leadership to replace the current state chief Visasolie Lhongou, whom they claim has been working for coalition partner NPF.

The letter to the national president of the BJP has been co-signed by 12 senior state leaders, including past and present state-level functionaries of the party. Outlook has a copy of this letter.

The confidential letter has been written after the leaders had been snubbed by the party’s top brass who did not meet their delegation six months ago in New Delhi. While the BJP, with four MLAs supports the Naga People’s Front (NPF), the state leaders of the party have said that they are ready to fight elections by themselves.

The 12 disgruntled leaders have written that despite not being an active functionary of the party, the central leadership of the party had made him the state chief in January 2016.
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It is believed that Lhongou’s selection was done by BJP general secretary, Ram Madhav.
“However, problems started surfacing in August 2016,” the letter says.

Following their problems, a delegation tried to meet with top BJP leaders such as Ram Lal, Nitin Gadkari, Kiren Rijiju, Prakash Javdekar, Jual Oram, Nirmala Sitharaman and others. The PM and party chief were also not available.

They returned to Nagaland and sent a memorandum through the state chief, which he withheld. “In fact, it was leaked to the NPF the next day,” the letter notes.

Last year, then Nagaland CM, TR Zeliang, dropped BJP MLA Mhonlumo Kikon as a parliamentary secretary worsening relations between the party. The BJP met and drafted a memorandum that they would send Narendra Modi and Shah. However, Lhongou never reconvened a meeting to finalise and send the memorandum.

The state chief had also fired three functionaries without ascribing any reasons and that affected the morale of party workers.

“The overwhelming majority of functionaries in the districts/mandal are almost on the verge of rebellion,” says the letter, which has said that the party can consult district- and block-level functionaries.

Before the urban local bodies elections were held in Nagaland, the NPF announced a cabinet decision, reserving 33 percent seats for women.

The letter by the BJP Nagaland leaders says that Zeliang had called Lhongou to the cabinet meeting. Lhongou is reported to have attended the meet without consulting the MLAs or other leaders in the party. There, he pledged support to the NPF’s cabinet decision which threw the state into chaos and ultimately led to Zeilang’s resignation as CM of Nagaland in February 2017.

Source: Outlook India




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