From boycott call to verbal duel Stakes high for NPF, BJP

Foreign to Naga people. Fundamentalism. Intolerance. Development or the lack of it. These were the issues which grabbed the limelight as Nagaland went to polls today, (February 27) and while it is as yet unclear whether the electorate bought the issues whipped up by the political parties, what is clear is that it is going to be a fight between the ruling NPF on the one side and the NDPP-BJP alliance on the other. It was the BJP, which the NPF took pains to pick out and galvanise the voters of Nagaland to vote in its favour while the BJP took pains to explain that it is not an anti-Christian party. In targeting the BJP, the NPF also rung out the message that a local party, born in Nagaland, the NDPP has not hesitated in striking up a pre-poll alliance with the BJP, which is akin to betraying the interests of the people of Nagaland. The Sangai Express has already had its say on how the stand off between the BJP and the NPF in Nagaland may impact on the coalition Government led by the BJP in Manipur, but it is more than clear that the snapping of ties between the NPF and the BJP just before the election runs deeper than breaking the decade old ‘friendship’ between the two parties. How the pre-poll barbs between the NPF and the BJP will impact on the voting pattern of the voters of Nagaland will be known only when the results start coming out on March 3, but it is interesting to note that the NPF and the Congress are reportedly in talks to form a post poll alliance. Also interesting and significant to note that while the earlier call was boycott of the election under the slogan ‘Solution Not Election,’ more than 75 percent of the voters did come out to exercise their voting rights.
And if one goes by the verbal duel between the NPF and the BJP before the elections, it is interesting to note that none of the barbs centred around the pending solution to the political negotiations underway between the Government of India and the NSCN (IM) and the six NNPGs. As already noted in this column in an earlier commentary, this could be due to the fact that no political party wanted to politicise the ongoing peace talk or maybe because the outcome of the peace talk is not enough to win the people over. The second option is what is worrying but in the topsy turvy world of politics anything is possible and this is a point which cannot be easily brushed aside. The votes have been cast and the fate of the candidates have been sealed and it is interesting to note that the Congress, which have ruled Nagaland earlier, is today nowhere in the picture, leaving the field open for the NPF and the NDPP-BJP alliance. Such a scenario must have really gone down well with the BJP and if the alliance with the NDPP works then this will mean that the BJP would have managed to get a toe hold in Nagaland, which will be a big political step. After having wrapped up Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur, it is only logical that the BJP widens its scope and try to spread its influence in the North East region and sharing power at Nagaland will certainly be a big boost to the saffron party. It is this likelihood which the NPF had warned the voters of Nagaland earlier and whether this line has been bought by the people or not will be known only when the results are declared.

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