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BJP woos regional parties in Nagaland to continue its conquest in northeast

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Talks are reportedly on with BJP and other regional parties as no party or alliance has secured a clear majority.

New Delhi: Tough negotiations are underway between the BJP and regional parties in Nagaland as no party has won a clear majority in the assembly poll results announced Saturday.

The Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP)-BJP alliance has secured 29 of the 59 assembly seats whereas the ruling Nagaland People’s Front (NPF) secured 27 seats on its own.

Former chief minister Neiphiu Rio was already declared winner after his rival withdrew his nomination from the Northern Angami-II assembly seat in Kohima district last month.

The NPF’s alliance partners — JD(U) and NPP — won one and two seats, respectively. However, sources told ThePrint that the JD(U) candidate G. Kaito Aye from Satakha and independent candidate Tongpang Ozukum from Angetyongpang are likely to switch over to the NDPP-BJP side, with the two winning NPP candidates also expected to follow suit soon.

Meanwhile, sources said that negotiations are on between the NPF and its former ally BJP since the latter’s alliance with NDPP has failed to reach the halfway mark.

Uncertainty loomed large over the Nagaland assembly election this year after the separatist NSCN-IM along with civil society groups called for an election boycott demanding an early solution to the vexed Naga political problem.

However, the BJP was the first to announce its list of candidates followed by the Congress and the newly-floated NDPP, which Rio had joined after quitting NPF.

While the fight between the NDPP and NPF remained neck and neck, it is the decisive seat gain for the BJP party. Showing a massive increase in its footprint in the state, the BJP alone secured 12 seats this time, overshooting expectations from all parties.

Rajat Sethi, a northeast observer and adviser to the Biren Singh government in Manipur, says that despite allegations about BJP’s “communal agenda”, strategies crafted by party chief Amit Shah and BJP leader Ram Madhav have managed to push the NPF to the corner.

“People of Nagaland have enormous trust in BJP because former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee took acute interest in Nagaland. The talk of a solution before the elections were all diversionary tactics to maintain status quo,” Sethi told ThePrint.

Political analysts in the state had also largely predicted the NDPP-BJP alliance will form government.

“It is just the propaganda that it is a Hindu party. Nothing much will change on the ground,” said Timir Choudhury, a political observer and former Congress party worker.

Asked how this BJP alliance would be different from the ruling DAN alliance, that had been in power for three consecutive terms, he said, “You will see more accountability with the government since the majority of the voters being below the age of 35, who are more aware of their rights.

Naga peace accord

The BJP has the advantage right from the start given the framework agreement signed between the Modi government and the NSCN-IM. However, state Congress president K. Therie said that BJP’s national integration approach will not allow for a Naga solution.

“The BJP’s ideology is uniform civil code or Hindutva so there can be no special provisions given to us. So I don’t think there will be a solution with BJP at the Centre,” he said.

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