New Delhi: A month after opposition parties joined hands with the Nagaland government, Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio announced Saturday evening that the new formation will be called the United Democratic Alliance (UDA) — making his government one without an Opposition.
The nomenclature was approved by legislators of the Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP) leading the ruling People’s Democratic Alliance (PDA) government of Nagaland, the BJP, the erstwhile opposition party, Naga People’s Front (PFA), and independent MLAs, Rio said in a tweet from his official Twitter handle.
The Nagaland Assembly is now a 59-member house after the death of one MLA. The state’s former opposition party NPF had won 25 seats in the 2018 assembly election but had suspended seven MLAs for anti-party activities and hobnobbing with the NDPP. NDPP which had formed the PDA government with BJP and two independents has a total of 34 MLAs.
On July 19 this year, the NPF had submitted a letter to CM Rio requesting for an all-party government to reach an early settlement of the Naga political problem. A month later, the Rio-led People’s Democratic Alliance passed a resolution with NPF for promoting Naga peace talks.
This is, however, not the first time opposition parties have joined hands with the state government in search of a permanent political solution for Nagaland. The Naga movement is considered to be the longest-running insurgency, begun during British rule, and which continued even after Nagaland became an Indian state.
In 1997, a ceasefire agreement was signed between the Centre and the National Socialist Council of Nagalim, (NSC-IM) the largest rebel groups, with negotiations being renewed in 2015 — the year when eight opposition Congress MLAs joined the NPF-led Democratic Alliance of Nagaland government led by then Chief Minister T.R. Zeliang, thus leaving the state assembly opposition-free.
The Congress had subsequently suspended the eight legislators from the party for supporting NPF-led Democratic Alliance of Nagaland government, allied with the BJP.
However, Zeliang inducted the eight MLAs into his ministry and gave them plum posts — as a minister, parliamentary secretaries and deputy speaker.
The all-party Opposition-less experiment
The Core Committee of the Parliamentary Committee on the Nagaland issue had earlier resolved to try the joint united approach in reaching a solution. The NPF legislature party has also endorsed the concept of an opposition-less government to solve the Naga peace problem.
A joint resolution was passed on August 11 and 13, 2021, with the NPF announcing that all political parties shall appeal to all Naga political groups to make a serious effort towards unity and reconciliation, and request the government of India for an amicable and early solution. Political parties of all shades also ensured unity on this front in the assembly.
On June 11, the Nagaland government declared that they would constitute a parliamentary committee that included all MLAs and MPs from the state as well — the first meeting took place in July in Dimapur.
On July 24, CM Rio met Union Home Minister Amit Shah in Delhi and requested the government to step in to solve the Nagaland issue — the idea of an opposition-less government is believed to have been raised in this meeting. The BJP was earlier sceptical of the UDA idea as it was apprehensive about being seen as junior partners in the alliance.
According to sources, Shah asked all parties to work together to facilitate the peace process with elections due in 2023. The idea was that such a stance would benefit all parties so that the public could consider them being serious about solving the problem.
Under the new formation of the UDA, reallocation of portfolios will be discussed but it is not the immediate priority. Legislators said the ‘first step’ has been cleared and all parties are on board as part of the committee to solve the Naga problem.
Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, the Northeast Democratic Alliance convenor, is visiting Dimapur to hold talks with NSCN (I-M ) chief Th Muiva on 21 September.
The Naga peace accord was signed on 3 August, 2015, in the presence of Prime Minister Modi and the NSCN to end the six-decade-old insurgency in Nagaland.
(Edited by Paramita Ghosh)
Also read: Meghalaya farmer is now richer than Punjab’s
Why news media is in crisis & How you can fix it
India needs free, fair, non-hyphenated and questioning journalism even more as it faces multiple crises.
But the news media is in a crisis of its own. There have been brutal layoffs and pay-cuts. The best of journalism is shrinking, yielding to crude prime-time spectacle.
ThePrint has the finest young reporters, columnists and editors working for it. Sustaining journalism of this quality needs smart and thinking people like you to pay for it. Whether you live in India or overseas, you can do it here.