Tokheho Yepthomi
Tokheho Yepthomi. Image - Northeast Now

Post re-election as the Lok Sabha MP of Nagaland, Tokheho Yepthomi defended the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, saying, “It is not at all threat to the Naga people”.

Rather, he sought to blame the Naga people on the issue and said the “Nagas are not aware of the contents of the bill”.

Yepthomi came under severe criticism from Naga civil society organisations and opposition political parties because of his absence on the day when the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016 was passed in the Lok Sabha in January this year.

However, his re-election to the Lok Sabha has made his absence in the Lower House on the day when the Bill was passed a non-issue in the state.

Also read: Nagaland Assembly passes resolution against Citizenship Bill

“The verdict itself is the answer,” a composed Yepthomi said.

He said, “Nagas fear their own ghosts,” adding, “We do not know the reality but keep speaking.”

Yepthomi affirmed that the Citizenship Bill is to grant citizenship to the people who have overstayed in India.

Also read: NDPP candidate Yepthomi retains lone Nagaland LS seat

He spoke of the figures that he had in his files in his last tenure as a Lok Sabha MP.

Yepthomi said the Bill intends to provide citizenship to a total of 31,330 immigrants, who have already been identified in the states of Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura, Gujarat and Jammu & Kashmir.

Out of this, roughly 25,000 are Hindus, he added.

Showing no signs of excitement on his re-election, Yepthomi said, “It was a fight between forces. I will not say what those forces are.”

Asked what he would do as a re-elected Lok Sabha member, Yepthomi said facilitating an early solution to the Indo-Naga political issue would be his primary area of focus.

When pointed out that “facilitation for an early solution” is an often repeated phrase of the successive governments and political parties in the state but there has been little progress on the issue, he said  there is so much that an elected representative can do to facilitate the solution to the vexed issue.

“I will carry forward the aspirations and expectations of the Naga people as the lone representative of the state in the Lok Sabha,” he asserted.

“I will give my best,” the MP added.

Yepthomi, the consensus candidate of ruling People’s Democratic Alliance (PDA) from Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP), retained the lone Lok Sabha seat defeating his nearest rival K.L. Chishi from INC by a margin of 16,344 votes in a neck-to-neck fight.

Yepthomi polled 5,00,510 votes, out of which 4,98,683 were EVM votes and 827 postal votes.

While his nearest rival Chishi garnered 4,84,166 votes, out of which 4,81,915 were EVM votes and 2251 were postal votes.

He won the Lok Sabha byelection in Nagaland defeating Naga People’s Front (NPF) candidate C. Apok Jamir by a margin of 1,73,746 votes in May last year.

The Lok Sabha bypoll was necessitated after chief minister and NDPP leader Neiphiu Rio resigned from Lower House to contest the Assembly election held on February 28.

Bhadra Gogoi

Bhadra Gogoi is Northeast Now Correspondent in Nagaland. He can be reached at: bhadragogoi@yahoo.com

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