Neiphiu Rio
Nagaland CM Neiphiu Rio (File image)

In the run up to the February 27 Nagaland Assembly polls, the newly formed Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP) is eyeing a tie-up with the BJP and announced Lok Sabha MP and former Chief Minister Neiphio Rio as its chief ministerial candidate.

The development follows after reports of ruling Naga People’s Front (NPF) hinting at severing ties with the BJP. However, the NPF had rubbished news reports of the party severing ties with the BJP as “mischievous, incorrect and misleading”.

A meeting of the Central Executive Board (CEB) of Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party endorsed Rio, party president Chingwang Konyak and secretary general Abu Metha to work out modalities of alliance with the BJP.

According to reports, the BJP is not averse to projecting NDPP chief ministerial candidate Neiphiu Rio as the joint chief ministerial candidate of the alliance. Reports indicate that BJP national president Amit Shah, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Rajnath Singh are open to working with Rio. Rio reportedly had also reached out to the BJP central leadership earlier.

Rio in a statement on Thursday had even hinted that his resignation from the NPF and joining NDPP was because of the decision of the NPF to sever ties with the BJP, which, he said, is in contravention of the NPF party’s earlier stand of supporting the peace process and to play the role of facilitator.

Following Rio’s resignation, vice president of NPF Central and former Minister R Khing resigned from both primary and active membership of the NPF and joined the NDPP yesterday. Another NPF leader  Zale Neikha has also resigned from both primary and active membership of NPF and joined NDPP on Thursday.

More NPF leaders, including legislators, are likely to resign from the NPF in the coming days and join the NDPP.

Meanwhile, in his first statement after joining the NDPP, Rio said he left NPF to join NDPP in the greater interest of the masses in the collective endeavour to bring early solution to the Naga political problem.

The former three-time Chief Minister lamented that the ruling NPF party has decided to sever ties with the BJP, which is leading the NDA Government at the Centre. This political decision, he said, is in contravention of the NPF party’s earlier stand of supporting the peace process and to play the role of facilitator.

“It is under such political circumstances that I have been left with no option but to resign from the NPF in accordance of the wishes of the people and in the greater interest of the masses in our collective endeavour to bring early political solution,” he said.

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