The Naga People’s Front (NPF), the main opposition party in Nagaland, on Saturday asked chief minister Neiphiu Rio who in the NPF party gave him direction to ‘remain silent’ on the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 or CAB when he was a Lok Sabha MP.
Reacting to the allegation of ruling Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP) that Rio was ‘directed’ to remain silent by his erstwhile party, NPF on Citizenship Bill when he was Lok Sabha member, the opposition party termed the allegation against NPF legislature party leader T R Zeliang as ‘absurd, immature and childlike’.
Zeliang was the chief minister when Rio was the Lok Sabha MP.
“Rather than spewing more lies and beating around the bush while trying to wriggle out of the mess which Rio had created in handling Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, it would do him and his party good to apologize for the ‘short-sightedness’ and putting the existence of the indigenous Nagas on sale so that he could cling on to his chair,” the NPF said.
The NPF asked NDPP as to who had served a full five-year term as state’s home minister before becoming chief minister for 11 years. It said Rio had reigned for a longer period of time than Zeliang, who was chief minister for a mere three-and-a-half years amidst ‘endless turmoil’ allegedly created by Rio for wanting to stay relevant in State politics.
The opposition party reminded the ruling party of the adage:
‘Those who live in glass houses should not throw stones.’
The NPF also dismissed the NDPP’s ‘consistent stand’ vis-à-vis the Citizenship Bill as ‘the greatest joke that any political party can come up with’.
It also termed the ruling party’s claim that important issues like the Citizenship Bill and matters relating to Nagaland were not listed initially in the Lok Sabha on January 8 as the ‘pinnacle of baloney’.
The NPF party also expressed its inability to comprehend the excitement that the NDPP derives from knowing that its Lok Sabha MP Tokheho Yepthomi absconded from Parliament when his presence was most needed.
On the charge of the NDPP that it is trying to dilute the special provisions under Article 371 (A), the NPF said it, being the oldest regional party in the region, has always put the interest and wellbeing of Nagas ahead of everything, and will continue so.
“At the same time, we are not as myopic as the NDPP and we tread on important subjects with caution so that the interest and the future of Nagas is not jeopardized.
“And that is how we have composed ourselves in the matter of Citizenship (Amendment) Bill unlike the NDPP who were ever ready to do anything to the extent of selling out the rights of Nagas for the sake of continuing in power,” the NPF said.
The Opposition party also said it would welcome a threadbare debate on the floor of the Assembly on the issue rather than resorting to ‘cheap rhetoric which the NDPP has mastered’.