With the announcement of poll dates for the three north-eastern states of Meghalaya, Nagaland and Tripura, political parties have pulled up their socks for the grand encounter at the hustings.
In Nagaland, though there were speculations amid pressures from several political groups, church leaders, civil society bodies and social organizations for postponement of polls till an amicable solution is reached on the vexed Naga issue, all political parties have welcomed the announcement of elections and said they are fully geared up to face the mandate.
Nagaland goes to polls on February 27 along with Meghalaya, while polling in Tripura will be held on February 18.
Counting in all the three states will be held on March 3 next.
Nagaland has 60 seats in the Assembly and the ruling Naga People’s Front (NPF) will field party candidates in almost all the constituencies.
“We are all charged up. We will field candidates in almost all the 60 Assembly constituencies,” said NPF secretary general K G Kenye after the announcement of election dates on Thursday.
Kenye further said, they are in favour of a political solution to the decades-old Naga problem at the earliest, but the decision of the Election Commission to hold polls as per schedule has to be honoured and also hoped that the elections will be a free and fair one devoid of any violence or untoward incident.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), while welcoming the announcement of the poll dates informed that the party is also going field as many candidates possible for the 60-member Nagaland Assembly. However, the win ability of the prospective candidates would be given utmost priority, said state BJP president Visasolie Lhoungu.
He further reiterated that the state unit of the BJP is going to polls alone after the ruling NPF snapped alliance with the saffron party. The BJP state president, however, did not rule out any pre-poll alliance if the central leaders take ‘a decision’ in this regard.
Meanwhile, the Nagaland Pradesh Congress Committee has exuded confidence of performing better during the polls. “Congress will form the next government in Nagaland and we are moving in the right direction to fight the elections in a winning way,” said a confident K Therie, the president of the state unit of the Congress.
The 2018 elections in Nagaland will also be interesting with regard to the performance of Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP), the regional party that got a shot in the arm with former Chief Minister and sitting NPF Lok Sabha MP from the state Neiphiu Rio joining the regional party just couple of days before. Rio has been projected as the party’s chief ministerial candidate this time.
Others in the fray are National People’s Party (NPP) and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), which were formed in the state last year.