The opposition Naga People’s Front (NPF) in Nagaland is staring at disintegration with seven of its Assembly unit presidents “unanimously” announcing their decision to resign from the party to join the ruling Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP) on Saturday.
Disintegration of the party was already manifest after seven of its MLAs deciding to support NDPP candidate Tokheho Yepthomi in April 11 parliamentary election for the lone Lok Sabha seat in the state against its decision to support the Congress candidate, K.L. Chishi.
Resignation of the seven Assembly unit presidents follows suspension of the seven MLAs and filing of a petition before the Assembly speaker on April 24 for their disqualification by the NPF leadership for openly defying the party’s collective decision in the recently concluded parliamentary election.
The speaker is expected to give a decision in the next four months in keeping with a Supreme Court ruling.
The seven Assembly constituency presidents, in a release on Saturday, alleged that the NPF leadership had become dictatorial and that views and opinions of the masses have been neglected by the party high command.
They said the NPF has given up regional ideology and betrayed people’s trust. They argued that the suspension of the seven MLAs “against all norms” was a clear case of high command rule and disconnect with the masses.
They claimed the seven suspended MLAs had supported and upheld the regional spirit and added the remaining NPF MLAs and all party leaders had openly campaigned for and voted for the national party Congress.
Ironically, the seven MLAs, who supported the regional principle, were suspended and even their disqualification from the Assembly was being sought now, they regretted.
The seven Assembly unit presidents also pointed out that the NPF had been partners with BJP for decades and still continues to partner the party in Manipur. The party termed the BJP as communal only in Nagaland after the state’s electorate put it in the opposition.
On May 1, eight central office bearers of the party openly challenged the decision of the party to suspend and file disqualification petition against the seven MLAs. They appealed to the NPF leadership to revoke the suspension order of the seven MLAs and also withdraw the disqualification petitions filed against them.
The NPF high command issued a show cause notice to them the following day for questioning the decision of the party to suspend the seven “erring MLAs”.
The party asked the eight office-bearers to reply show cause as to why the disciplinary action should not be initiated against them for openly questioning and challenging the decision of the party, which, it said, is total breach of party discipline. They had been asked to submit their reply within seven days.
The NPF won 26 seats in the 60-member Nagaland House in the 2018 Assembly elections.
If the seven of its MLAs are disqualified by the speaker, the party strength in the Assembly will be reduced to 19.
The NDPP-BJP combine won 30 seats in the last Assembly elections and formed the government with support of two National People’s Party (NPP) and one JD (U) MLAs and an Independent.