With seven days to go for the May 28 by-poll to the Nagaland parliamentary constituency, campaigning has gained momentum across the state.
The ruling People’s Democratic Alliance led Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP) launched its campaign for its consensus candidate Tokheho Yepthomi here on May 15 while Opposition Naga People’s Front (NPF) launched its campaign for its candidate C Apok Jamir in Kohima on May 16. The by-poll will witness straight contest between the two parties.
The campaign, so far, was laced with personal barbs, allegations, ongoing Naga talks and attacks on previous Democratic Alliance of Nagaland government headed by TR Zeliang and the activities of PDA government led by Neiphiu Rio.
Following the Karnataka post-election scenario, the single largest party issue also raised by the NPF during its campaign rallies. With 16 seats in its kitty in the 60-member House, the NPF said it is the largest single party and therefore the governor should invite it to form the government.
The NDPP said it forged pre-poll alliance with BJP and won 30 seats together. It said it had a seat sharing arrangement with BJP as one single entity where the two parties did not contest against each other in any constituency. The party, therefore, described NPF’s claim of being the single largest pasty as “false claim”.
The NDPP has come down heavily on NPF for allegedly trying to polarize the people of Nagaland on “religious lines” for their narrow political mileage.
NDPP spokesperson Marentoshi Jamir strongly criticized the manner in which NPF president Shurhozelie was appealing the electorates to vote for NPF candidate C Apok Jamir if they trust Christianity.
Zeliang lambasted Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio for “misleading the people on the Naga issue”, saying “any leader can speak for Naga solution to get votes but the Naga people will judge from action.”
The former chief minister emphasised the need for the general public to vote for a candidate whose party’s priority was based on settlement of the protracted Naga political issue.
While maintaining that “NDPP-BJP alliance has ocean of difference from NPF-BJP,” he reminded that “NPF-led DAN government managed to convince BJP MLAs in passing resolution in the State Assembly on 15th December, 2017 for election only after solution to Naga political problem was arrived at.”
On this note, he questioned the NDPP as to why “it did not try to convince its seat-sharing partner BJP to withdraw the drastic action taken against two BJP signatories Kheto Sema and Tsasepi Sangtam who had committed with the voice of Naga people on January 29, 2018 at Hotel Japfu, Kohima.”
“Naga people should cross check who is talking for the sake of talking and who is talking based on action on the ground,” Zeliang said.