Fissures with a coalition partner
Stand of NPF
Seems like the two year itch. An itch brought about by a haughty BJP which does not know how to treat its junior partner in the coalition Government or an itch brought about by a desire to have something more than its pound of flesh ? The probabilities are many, but it is nevertheless significant to note that the Naga People’s Front has gone on record to state that it is not at all satisfied with how the BJP has been treating them as a partner in the coalition Government. Significant to note that the NPF speaks from a position of strength for remember it was the hastily cobbled up coalition, consisting of the NPF with four MLAs, the NPP with four MLAs, an Independent MLA from Jiribam Assembly Constituency and the lone Trinamul Congress MLA that enabled the BJP to form the Government after the Assembly elections in 2017. With 21 MLAs, the BJP managed to form the Government as the NPF, NPP, Independent and Trinamul Congress combine helped it to cross the 30 figure mark. That eight rogue MLAs from the Congress have extended support to the BJP led Government is another matter, but this how things stand and it is from this strength that the NPF is today talking tough. No pre-poll arrangement but the stand of the NPF vis-a-vis the Congress is well known to all and its primary task must have been to do all it can to keep the Congress out of power and in backing the BJP led coalition it managed to do just that. But as they say, politics is a funny game and the possibility that what started off as a honeymoon ending in divorce cannot be ruled out that easily.
Not that this will be the end of the ties between the NPF and the BJP. The Naga issue or the ongoing political negotiations between the NSCN (IM) and the Government of India cannot be seen in isolation of the political decisions that the NPF may take, for the Naga issue is at the core of all political decisions taken by the party which is there on behalf of the Naga people. The name NPF itself should suggest this. On the other hand, the BJP too cannot be seen to be sleeping over the issue raised by the NPF. It should look back to the ‘restorative works’ it had taken up from the day it came to power and the fact that the Government of Manipur is today no longer the ‘communal Government of Manipur’ in the eyes of the Naga civil society organisations, particularly the UNC should be understood in its correct perspective. In as much as the coming of a new Government could be the reason in the change of stance of the Naga civil society organisations, it should also be acknowledged that supping with the NPF too rang out the correct message to the Nagas of Manipur. The feel good factor that has been generated, much evident in the fact that serpentine queues in front of petrol pumps in Imphal is today a thing of the past, should not be forgottern in the politics of coalition Government. The tie with the NPF cannot be belittled on this point. Still too early to say which way the ball will roll, but the NPF has already spoken out and it is best left to the State BJP leadership to see how it responds.