BJP suspends 2 leaders for attending Naga body meet
Party says they were ‘not authorised’ to participate; EC says no change in poll plan
GUWAHATI : The BJP on Tuesday suspended two party leaders from Nagaland for attending a meeting called by local tribal and civil groups, where 11 political parties decided to boycott the upcoming state assembly elections in view of the Naga peace deal talks.
The Election Commission (EC) also rejected calls for postponement of the polls, stating that it would go ahead with the electoral schedule announced earlier.
“The (gazette) notification for the poll will be announced on Wednesday, and polling will take place on February 27,” chief electoral officer Abhijit Sinha told mediapersons in Kohima.
Representatives of all the prominent political parties in the state, including the ruling Naga People’s Front (NPF), coalition partner BJP and Opposition Congress, decided at a meeting called by the Core Committee of Naga Hohos and Civil Organisations (CCTNHCO) on Monday that they would not contest the polls until a “final solution” to the deal was arrived at. However, the BJP renounced the agreement soon afterwards, stating that the two party leaders who attended the meeting were not authorised to do so.
Union minister of state for home Kiren Rijiju, who is also the BJP’s election in-charge for Nagaland, told journalists on Tuesday that “boycotting the polls cannot be a solution” to the issue. “The government of India attaches utmost importance to the long-pending Naga issue. We believe that (the conduct of) a peaceful election in Nagaland will facilitate the ongoing peace talks and strengthen our commitment,” he said.
Earlier in the day, Sinha had urged representatives of political parties to comply with the guidelines and file their nominations on time. However, opposition to the elections continued, with 10 legislators of the ruling NPF resigning from the assembly in support of the boycott call. The CCTNHCO even threatened to launch an indefinite strike across the state from February 1 if its demands were not considered.
The Centre had signed a framework agreement with the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (Isak-Muivah) in 2015 on the Naga demand for the creation of a Greater Nagalim, which will include all Naga-inhabited areas in the northeast. With the Centre initiating talks with six more rebel outfits late last year, a lasting and acceptable solution to the demand is expected.
Influential tribal organisations, civil society groups and political parties have urged the Centre and the election commission to refrain from holding polls at this juncture as it could upset the negotiations.
The Nagaland assembly also passed a resolution supporting the ‘solution before election’ demand in December.
Influential tribal organisations, civil society groups and political parties have urged the Centre and the EC to refrain from holding polls at this juncture as it could upset the peace talks.