BJP sus­pends 2 lead­ers for at­tend­ing Naga body meet

Party says they were ‘not au­tho­rised’ to par­tic­i­pate; EC says no change in poll plan

Hindustan Times (Gurgaon) - - Nation - Ut­pal Parashar ut­pal.parashar@htlive.com

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.

PTI FILE

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.

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