Climax over the possibility of postponement of elections to Nagaland assembly still remains as pressure seems to be mounting on the Centre to expedite the peace process and ongoing negotiations with the militant groups.
Former Chief Minister and state’s lone Lok Sabha MP Neiphiu Rio on Friday met Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh here and impressed upon him the the desire of the Naga People for “solution to Naga political problem before election”, according to sources in the Nagaland People’s Front (NPF).
Elections are due in February-March and the tenure of the present Nagaland Legislative Assembly expires on
March 13, 2018.
NPF is a constituent of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance and is at power in the state since 2003.
The Central government is keen for negotiated settlement to the decades old Naga problem with two potent groups National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN-Isak Muivah faction) and NSCN (Khaplang).
While parleys are at crucial stage with NSCN (IM), with whom first talks had begun in 1997; the talks have to be started afresh with NSCN (Khaplang) as the group had abrogated the ceasefire with the Government of India
in 2015. The Nagaland government in consultation with the Centre had been sending delegations to meet the NSCN(K) leadership in Myanmar to convince the rebel outfit to re-enter the peace process to find an early solution to the Naga political problem, sources said.
The death of NSCN(K) chief S S Khaplang on June 9, 2017 has weakened the group and there are indications that they too could forward for talks once again. On January 8, Nagaland Chief Minister T R Zeliang despatched a letter appealing to the Khaplang faction to revisit the peace process with the central government once again.
In his meeting with Mr Singh, senior NPF leader Mr Rio, who supports NDA regime headed by Prime Minister
Narendra Modi, also lauded the efforts being made by the centre to bring an early solution to the vexed Naga problem.
Former Nagaland unit BJP president, Dr M Chuba Ao and BJP general secretary Ram Madhav were also present at the meeting. Mr Rio, who was Chief Minister since 2003 till 2014 May when he moved to Delhi as MP, is also likely to hold discussions with BJP chief Amit Shah, sources said. Election dates for Tripura and Meghalaya along with Nagaland could be announced anytime. However, the government has reportedly requested Election Commission to defer announcing poll dates for Nagaland at least by few days.
During the meeting between Mr Singh and Mr Rio, it was also emphasised that holding of elections in states
including in Nagaland is a “constitutional obligation” and thus this could not be deferred for long.
In case of deferment of polls, President’s Rule may be imposed in the northeastern state.