Saturday, March 25, 2023

Battleground Nagaland: Fight beyond party lines

Staff Reporter

As voters await the final list of candidates to emerge after the last date of withdrawal on February 10, the 2023 Nagaland election is proving to be one of the most confusing which has led voters to realise that they have to expect the unexpected.
The NDPP and BJP have formed a pre-poll alliance as in 2018 with the same seat sharing arrangement of NDPP (40) and BJP(20) seats. NDPP has issued tickets to several unexpected applicants while 15 sitting MLAs including some veterans were denied tickets.
All other parties including Congress have kept their doors open late for those who were denied tickets by either NDPP or BJP. This has led to late electioneering among all parties expected to pick up only after February 10.
The BJP on the other hand was swamped by aspirants who wanted to cash in on being part of a ruling party at the centre and also implying the party will form or head the next government. This desire has been driven by BJP leader and deputy chief minister Y. Patton.
However, the Central leaders shot down the rather ambitious plan and stuck to the 2018 seat sharing arrangement.
NDPP supremo and chief minister Neiphiu Rio faces the toughest challenge due to anti-incumbency such allegations of mis-governance and failure to secure Naga solution despite promises since 2003 under which plank he fought four previous elections (2003, 2008, 2013 and 2018).
According to reports, five senior sitting NDPP legislators who have not been given tickets will be fighting the election on Lok Janshakti Party (RV), while two will be fighting under NCP ticket. Other BJP aspirants are going to contest under NPP ticket including other parties.
The stakes are high and with Congress and AAP unlikely to ally with any coalition which includes BJP but the two including non-NDA party, the JDU have not closed ranks. The NPF has not warmed up to a secular alliance call by Congress in order to keep its doors open for any post-poll alliance, probably with NDPP-BJP.
Even within the leadership of NDPP and BJP, there are reports that both have set up ‘proxy candidates’ in the seats conceded as per the seat sharing arrangement. However, going deeper, it is reported that as both Neiphiu Rio and BJP leader Y. Patton are definitely leaving no stone unturned to shore up numbers in the post-poll scenario.
Whichever way, the outcome this time will be crucial for 2024 for the BJP as assembly election this time could hold more surprises even before government formation.


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