After days of speculation, the Opposition Naga People’s Front (NPF) on Saturday said the party would extend issue-based support to the Congress candidate KL Chishi in the upcoming Lok Sabha election.
The party a statement said it has agreed to go with the secular forces’ candidate (Congress) together.
However, it said, going together in the ensuing election will not change the party’s regionalism stand nor will it reflect as an alliance partner with the Congress.
Reading out the party’s official statement during the consultative meeting with central office bearers, divisions, central executive committee, frontals and MLAs at its central office in Kohima, party president Shürhozelie Liezietsu clarified that though the party has decided to lend support to the Congress, the decision is only for the upcoming election.
Shürhozelie said the eminent danger before the Naga people lies in the form of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill.
He said the NPF decided to garner support of all secular forces together to fight the coming Lok Sabha election and take a stand against the bill to defend the future of the Nagas.
He also said the NPF did not field its candidature as the Congress alone cannot unseat the ruling PDA’s Lok Sabha candidate Tokheho Yepthomi.
“In politics, sometimes we find it necessary to uphold our super-consciousness forgetting the consequences that may follow but the issue confronting the Naga people at present is a question of life and death. Therefore, the NPF will support the secular party (Congress),” Shürhozelie said.
He recalled what he had suffered in his political journey for many years under the Congress rule.
“Anyone who experienced the bitterness will find it very difficult to convince his conscience to vote for another symbol but due to the issue confronting the future of the Naga people, the party has decided to make the best use of a bad bargain and stand with the Congress candidate,” Shürhozelie added.
NPF legislature party leader TR Zeliang said it might be discouraging for the people that the NPF could not set up its candidate for the coming Lok Sabha poll.
He said the party will give issue-based support to the secular (Congress) candidate. However, he maintained that giving its support in the ensuing election does not mean it has an alliance with the Congress.
The NPF will vote for the Congress candidate K.L. Chishi to defeat the NDPP candidature Tokheho Yepthomi on the issues of secularism, Citizenship (Amendment) Bill and resolution of the Naga political issue, Zeliang said.
On the seven NPF MLAs declaring their support to the PDA government and the NPF candidate for the Aonglendeng Assembly byelection, Toshipokba Longkumer, withdrawing his candidature, Zeliang said it is evident that they have bargained the people’s and party’s trust for their personal benefits.
“The deserted NPF leaders have not only brought shame to the party but it will also cost them throughout their life,” Zeliang said.
Castigating the statement of the seven NPF deserter MLAs, the former chief minister said the development was not sudden but continuing for quite a long time. He said they were struggling to leave the party for one reason or the other.
Zeliang said all the 26 party MLAs held thorough discussions on the coming Lok Sabha election on March 18 and 23 where all the seven “deserters” suggested not to set up NPF candidate but to support secular congress’s candidate.
They have not only cheated the people but also themselves with their false statement, Zeliang added.
He added the seven deserter MLAs are legally still NPF MLAs and added that every elected MLA is bound by the party constitution and not by any Assembly speaker.
He said the party had served them a show cause notice and asked them to reply within seven days.
“The door for them is still open. But if they fail to return within the stipulated time given to them, the party will be compelled to initiate further course of steps,” Zeliang said.
Division presidents and representatives, who took part in the meeting, asserted that the party is intact and reaffirmed to stand by the party decision and principle.
The meeting was chaired by party secretary general and Rajya Sabha MP KG Kenye.