Angry mob force BJP leaders in Nagaland seek 'new seat share' pact with NDPP
Source: Nirendra Dev *

Dimapur, January 23 2023: Alarmed by the anguished BJP supporters and their noisy protest in Dimapur for more than two hours on Sunday evening, top Nagaland BJP leaders assured hundreds of Karyakatas that they would press the central leadership to review the seat share agreement with NDPP to 30:30 .

The assurance was given after supporters of 'BJP intending candidate' gheraoed the Dimapur residence of BJP legislature party leader and deputy chief minister Y Patton and staged a noisy protest against state unit president Temjen Imna Along.

Apparently, they protested that the 20:40 seat share formula with NDPP was unacceptable as many ticket aspirants were either contestants of 2018 or were earlier assured by the 'key office bearer' that they would be accommodated.

Protest went for second day in commercial hub Dimapur and also Kohima.

After senior leaders Y Patton (Deputy CM) and state unit president Temjen Imna Along failed to pacify them, the two leaders assured the crowd that they will insist for 30-30 seat share.

Angry mob force BJP leaders in Nagaland seek 'new seat share' pact with NDPP
BJP leaders in Nagaland seek 'new seat share' pact with NDPP :: Pix - Nirendra Dev

"We can go to Guwahati and also New Delhi and if our request is not heeded, we all will resign en masse," one of the leaders told the party karyakartas, eyewitness accounts claimed.

"Guwahati cannot undermine the political aspirations of Nagas to back the government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi," a source said perhaps in reference to a key leader who is known for his friendship with NDPP leader and Nagaland CM Neiphiu Rio.

Video of the protest and BJP workers raising slogans also went viral on social media in no time.

In fact, sources said one key office bearer of the saffron party was reportedly given a chase by the mob and as he had descended in the residence of a senior colleague, the mob kept raising slogans demanding immediate remedial of their grievances.

Several BJP supporters were reportedly heard screaming that "people and leaders from Assam" cannot decide whether the Naga voters will back the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi or not.

The reference was to NEDA convener and Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, who is seen in the entire plot of having been worked as a 'friend' of Nagaland Chief Minister Rio.

Both Rio and Sarma are originally from Congress and NDPP sources said their friendship existing for last many years.

Many in Nagaland BJP were surprised at the central BJP's electoral strategies vis-a-vis Nagaland and Meghalaya.

In Nagaland, to the surprise of many while the BJP has settled for 20 seats yet again like 2018 whereas there were strong demands for at least making the partnership equal.

In Meghalaya, the BJP has dumped its ally Conrad Sangma-led NPP and will go alone.

In 2018, BJP had won only two seats in Meghalaya out of over 40 seats it contested.

But in Nagaland, the BJP had won 12 out of only 20 seats it contested and it also had a better strike rate than NDPP of Rio that had won won only 18 out of 40 .

Analysts say for about one year there have been repeated tussles between a section of BJP leaders in Nagaland led by deputy CM Y patton and the party high command over the 20:40 formula.

State unit president Temjen Imna Along and Nagaland in-charge Nalin Kohli were largely seen as pro-Neiphiu Rio.

Another central BJP leader Rituraj Sinha had earlier this month tried to take a corrective step but he could not do much as his efforts to meet ticket aspirants including a large number of them from NDPP could not yield expected results.

Apparently, on Jan 19 seat share talks in Delhi attended by Chief Minister Rio and his Assam counterpart Himanta Biswa Sarma, Sinha and deputy CM Patton were again sidelined.

Analysts say NDPP's approach has been to exploit the name and popularity of Prime Minister Narendra Modi but stall the growth of BJP in Nagaland.

The BJP's popularity and acceptability of Narendra Modi as a popular Prime Minister in Nagaland could be gauged from the fact that a senior NDPP legislator Imkong L Imchen resigned as MLA on Jan 21, Saturday, and is still eyeing a BJP ticket.

So are a few more Ao leaders from Mokokchung district including Alemtemshi Jamir, a former Chief Secretary.

Alemtemshi was the founding working president of NDPP in 2017 when Rio and veteran leader Chingwang Konyak had floated the party.

The seat-share discussions on Jan 19 in Delhi and reported controversies about alleged 'threats' from NSCN-IM insisting to NDPP leaders to take Pughoboto seat for a nephew of a late NSCN-IM leader has embarrassed BJP as well.

In 2018 Dr A Sukhato, a medico and retired Director of Medical and Health Services, had lost the seat to NPF nominee by a margin of 70 votes only.

Trying to keep up the attack on BJP, Nagaland Congress president K Therie in a statement said that, "it was not intimidation but was a directive from the NDPP High Command" .

In 1998, the NSCN-IM was against the polls but this year's its stance is not clear.

But it is alleges established political players in Kohima have 'nexus' with the NSCN-IM.

Incidentally, the NSCN-IM leader Thuingaleng Muivah is insisting on separate Naga flag and constitution and this has stalled taking the final call to ink a peace pact.

The umbrella group of seven Naga outfits NNPG is, however, keen to ink a final peace pact.

Muivah is in negotiation with the centre since 1997 when I K Gujral was the Prime Minister and the Modi government has said that all parleys had concluded by Oct 31, 2019 .

"The BJP being the ruling major partner in Nagaland knows well that Nagaland desperately needs healing and deliverance from the bondage of suppression....The people of Nagaland being tired and weary of living with the alien culture of unabated exploitation, corruption and suppression of the fundamental rights of the people, the political solution was therefore ardently demanded," wrote Z Lohe, a former Nagaland Assembly Speaker in an article for local newspapers.

"Not in election matters alone, but in every matter of governance, Nagaland has been under the dictate of rogue elements in connivance with the state Govt," he wrote.

From time to time former Gujarat Governor and veteran Naga leader S C Jamir has also been raising these issues.

Besides insisting on 20:40 formula and reportedly seeking the Pughoboto seat for itself, the NDPP is also seeking to grab Chizami assembly seat which was in BJP quota in 2018 .

The NDPP wants Chizami seat in Phek district -- also falling under Temyimia belt.

The saffron party leaders from Nagaland and a few in Delhi view this as a "deliberate ploy" to prevent BJP's entry into the politically crucial Tenyimia belt.

Besides Phek distrist, Kohima district to which Chef Minister Rio belongs also falls under Tenyimia belt.

The BJP ticket aspirant for Chizami, Kevechutso Doulo certainly deserves another shot at the goal post, is the refrain of some sections.

In 2018, Doulo lost the seat by a narrow margin of only 403 votes.

Kezhienyi Khalo of NPF had won the seat and the BJP camp claims that "strategically" the sitting MLA may back the saffron party nominee this time if he does not contest polls himself.

So the anguish of BJP Karyakartas surfacing in such blatant and assertive manner on Jan 22 evening (Sunday) is not quite all of a sudden development.

Now the ball will be finally in the court of BJP central leadership and the Parliamentary Board.

Nagaland goes to the polls on Feb 27 with Meghalaya while voting in Tripura is on Feb 16 .

"New Delhi knows well what Nagaland is, and who does what in Nagaland," says Lohe in his article and observers believe that the words are well measured.

* The sender of this news can be contacted at nirendev1(AT)gmail(DOT)com .

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