The Nagaland Pradesh Congress Committee (NPCC) has fielded the newly-inducted Kiphire District Congress Committee president Khaseo Anar to contest the bypoll from Pungro-Kiphire Assembly constituency in Kiphire district scheduled for November 3.

NPCC president K Therie handed over the ticket to Anar at a ticket distribution programme in presence of party functionaries at Congress Bhavan Dimapur on Tuesday.

The bypoll was necessitated following the death of Naga People’s Front (NPF) legislator T Torechu on December 16 last year.

The constituency is likely to witness a twin contest between the Indian National Congress and the BJP though the later has not declared its candidate as yet.

The Nagaland BJP on Monday declared to field its candidate for the Pungro-Kiphire Assembly constituency bypoll and shortlisted three probable candidates whose names have been sent to party’s national president.

Southern Angami-1 Assembly constituency in Kohima district will also go for bypoll on the same date.

The seat fell vacant following the death of former Nagaland Assembly Speaker Vikho-o Yhoshü on December 30 last year.

Yhoshü was elected to the state Assembly on Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP) ticket.

The last date for filing of nominations for the two seats is October 16 while the last date for withdrawal is October 19.

Other political parties in the State, including the ruling NDPP and BJP alliance, are yet to officially announce their candidates.

Speaking at the ticket distribution ceremony, Therie said the Congress has fielded its candidate Anar for the Pungro-Kiphire Assembly constituency to send a strong message that the people of Nagaland do not agree with Hindutva politics and to protect the Naga identity and their way life.

He alleged that the BJP’s intent is to merge the minority communities with the Hindutva ideologies.

“We must protest against it,” he stated.

Therie hoped that Anar will defect to the ruling alliance if he wins the bypoll as he is deeply rooted in the Congress ideologies.

On the Southern Angami Assembly bypoll, Therie indicated that it will support the NPF, which supported Congress candidate KL Chishi in the last Lok Sabha elections, in the seat.

He said the Congress Party will sit with the NPF to finalise their support for each other in both the constituencies.

In the last Lok Sabha election in the state, the Congress candidate was ahead of NDPP candidate Tokheho Yepthomi in the Pungro-Kiphire Assembly constituency by over 3000 votes, Therie stated.

In his address, Anar said he decided to contest the bypoll as he did not want the BJP candidate to go uncontested.

On Monday, NPF president Dr Shürhozelie Liezietsu said his party has decided to contest the by-poll in Southern Angami-I Assembly seat.

On the Pungro-Kiphire Assembly constituency by-poll, he said the party’s search committee was yet to screen out the list of probable candidates.

Liezietsu said the battle for the Southern Angami-I Assembly constituency will be “words versus money”.

The NDPP is likely to announce its candidate for the Southern Angami-I Assembly constituency soon.

In the 60-member Nagaland Assembly, the NDPP had 19 members, BJP 12, NPF 26, National People’s Party (NPP) two and an Independent.

While one member each of the NDPP and the NPF passed away, seven NPF legislators extended support to the NDPP candidate in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections for which the NPF sought their disqualification from the party but Speaker Sharingain Longkumer rejected it.

The two NPP legislators also shifted allegiance to the ruling NDPP.

Bhadra Gogoi

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