Merger with NDPP a bid to keep national parties at bay: TR Zeliang

KOHIMA: Over a week after 21 of the 25 MLAs of the Naga People’s Front (NPF) merged with the Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP), NPF supremo and United Democratic Alliance (UDA) chairman TR Zeliang said that the step was taken to prevent the national political parties from dominating in Nagaland.

Meanwhile, an official statement on Saturday said that Commissioner and Secretary of the Nagaland Assembly Dr PJ Antony, in a notification, announced that after the merger of the 21 members of the NPF with the NDPP on April 29 and the order of the Speaker, TR Zeliang has ceased to be the Leader of the Opposition in the Nagaland Legislative Assembly.

Zeliang, while talking to the media, said that the decision of the NPF MLAs’ merger with the NDPP was not a sudden step, it was a consensus decision to form a strong regional party in Nagaland and to prevent the national political parties from taking advantage and running the affairs of the State.

“According to the provisions of the 10th schedule of the Constitution, two-third MLAs of a political party can legally merge with another political party for a better cause,” Zeliang, also a former Chief Minister, said in the Chumouekedima district.

He expressed hope that an amicable solution to the much expected Naga political issue would be found.

Zeliang said that the following the request of Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio and other leaders to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah in Delhi, the Central Government’s representative AK Mishra recently visited Nagaland and met the Chief Minister, leaders of NSCN-IM, Naga National Political Groups (NNPG), core committee on Naga political issues as well as the Naga civil society and discussed the peace talks issue.

To take forward the Naga political issue between the Centre and Naga outfits and various other groups, the all-party UDA Government was formed last year.

Both the NPF and the NDPP are the constituents of the Opposition-less all-party UDA government, while the BJP with 12 MLAs is also an important ally of the ruling alliance. With the joining of the 21 NPF legislators, the strength of NDPP has gone up to 42 in the 60-member Assembly.

Mishra, a former Special Director of the Intelligence Bureau, was entrusted with the Naga peace talks after transfer of Nagaland Governor Ravindra Narayan Ravi, who was the Centre’s interlocutor in the Naga peace talks for many years, to Tamil Nadu.

The recent political development in Nagaland is a very significant move ahead of early next year’s elections to the Nagaland Assembly. All the political parties in Nagaland are keen to resolve the vexed Naga peace talk issue before the Assembly elections. The Centre has been separately holding peace talks with the NSCN-IM and eight other Naga groups, which came together a few years ago under the banner of NNPGs.

However, the NSCN-IM’s insistence on a separate Naga flag and Constitution has become a hurdle. (IANS)

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