TODAY -

BJP's poll fate hinges on Centre's stand on Nagalim
Source: The Sangai Express / TNN

Imphal, February 18 2017: The BJP, whose biggest enemy in Manipur is Congress, is more worried about NSCN-IM which is bargain-ing with the Centre for getting hold of parts of the former princely state, along with some pockets of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and even parts of Myanmar, to create a greater homeland for the Nagas.

The question haunting the saffron party now is would this single issue prove to be its Achilles' Heel in its fight to overthrow the Congress Government.

So far, the party's state leadership has not dared to step into this contentious issue and is looking forward to an answer from Prime Minister Narendra Modi when he comes to campaign here on February 25 .

"This is a burning topic," state BJP president Kshetri-mayum Bhabananda Singh said, adding, "We would definitely want him to clarify the Centre's stand on the issue when he addresses the people at the Kangla Fort here" .

Should the Centre accede to NSCN-IM's demand for integration of Naga-inhabited areas of all these states with the present day Naga-land state, Manipur stands to lose eight of its 10 hill districts - Ukhrul, Kamjong, Tamenglong, Noney, Sena-pati, Kangpokpi, Tengnou- pal and Chandel.

NSCN-IM supremo Thuingaleng Muivah, a Tangkhul Naga, is from Somdal village in Ukhrul district.

This would also mean that to appease 20% of the Nagas in these eight hill districts, it can compromise with its electoral fortunes by stoking the sentiments of 62% Meiteis, majority of whom are Hindus of the valley.

NSCN-IM's proposed Nagalim or Greater Naga-land spreads over approxi- mately 1,20,000 sq km - a huge expansion from the present state of Nagaland that has an area of 16,527 sqkm.

The Nagas claim these areas as their 'rightful' homeland and vow frequently not to let it go to any state, except the dream 'Nagalim' .

The saffron party's Naga candidates for the constituencies in the hills have been left in the lurch as far as spelling out the party's stand on territorial integration for greater Nagaland is concerned while campaigning.

The party is keeping its fingers crossed and trying to find a 'middle path' for its Naga candidates to convince the people in the hills, a key BJP functionary said.

Till Modi arrives here, these candidates will talk about development issues only.

BJP also faces the challenge of handling a relatively new voice for the inner line permit system to restrict anyone from outside the state travelling to Manipur to protect the indigenous people.

This time, it is the sentiments of the Meiteis that BJP cannot afford to overlook.

The ILP supporters have banned any non-local from contesting election.

Last year, nine people were killed and dozens injured in protests against the anti-migrants' bill, which was passed by the assembly following pressure from ILP supporters.

Houses of six MLAs were set on fire in Churachandpur by anti-ILP protesters.

All that BJP has to say now is the ILP issue has to be settled within the framework of the Constitution.

"Once we come to power, we will take up this issue and try to convince all the indigenous people," said a BJP functionary.


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