Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The Naga Vote

Nagaland went to the polls today in a rather unusual election, with the lone Lok Sabha seat being contested between the Congress and the ruling Naga People's Front. What makes it unusual is that the NPF's Chief Minister Neiphu Rio is contesting. The three-time Chief Minister, whose party has a virtually complete grip on the state and enjoys the backing of the Church as well, is now looking to become an MP.

The question is - why? The rumors in Delhi and Kohima point to the fact that the NPF - which, officially, is a part of the Democratic Alliance of Nagaland (DAN) with the BJP in Nagaland - is looking for a Cabinet position in Delhi and wants to find a final solution to the Naga question. For the BJP, whose real strength in the Northeast ex-Assam is in Nagaland and parts of Arunachal Pradesh, this is an ideal chance to bring in one more seat in its Mission 272+. In the last elections in Manipur, the NPF made a dent in the Naga-areas of the state, meaning that Rio can influence other election results as well.

Of course, for the next administration, the Naga talks will be an important issue. With Myanmar having undergone a complete change in its politics, the time is right for India to bring it on the table so that it can talk to both the NSCN(K) and the NSCN(IM) and find a final solution. Of course, that will require strong leadership in New Delhi and if rumors are anything to go by, the NPF knows this. 

No comments: