ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Expediency and Principle

In Nagaland, there are no permanent allies or enemies in politics.

 

When Nagaland votes on 27 February, the real battle will not be just between different political parties but also between expediency and principle. On 29 January, 11 political parties signed an agreement to boycott the polls until a settlement was reached between the centre and the Nagas about their future status. Yet, within days the boycott fizzled out. Led by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) that had also signed the statement, all parties justified abandoning the principle that had drawn them together and instead chose the path of expediency. No party wanted to risk another party winning the election by default as had happened in 1998 when the Congress party won practically all seats uncontested.

As far as political alliances go in Nagaland, the fluidity of choices exceeds anything witnessed in mainland India. Currently, all 60 elected members of the assembly are part of the ruling Democratic Alliance of Nagaland (DAN) headed by the Naga People’s Front (NPF). There is no opposition. The BJP has been an ally of the NPF for more than a decade. Eight Congress legislators joined DAN in 2015. So oddly, both BJP and the Congress were part of the same alliance. Yet in the run-up to this election, the BJP has announced a pre-electoral alliance with NPF’s newly formed rival, the Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP), a breakaway group led by former chief minister Neiphiu Rio. Despite this, current chief minister T R Zeliang announced that his party was not opposed to a post-election alliance with the BJP. Thus you have two regional parties opposed to each other with a common national partner and two national parties opposed to each other with a common regional partner.

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Updated On : 23rd Feb, 2018

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