Friday, March 31, 2023

Failure in negotiations led to Assembly polls: Rio


Nagaland chief minister Neiphiu Rio said failure to come to a final settlement on the Naga political issue had led the State to face the Assembly ensuing election.
Kicking-off the election campaign for NDPP candidate from 10 Northern Angami-II Assembly constituency (AC) at Kohima village ground here on Thursday, he also admitted that the inability to resolve the Naga issue was a big stumbling block to development activities. And he attributed the failure to come to a settlement to the differences among people, noting that the negotiations following ceasefire had entered the 26th year now.
Rio said the proposed visit by Prime Minister Narendra Modi that could not materialised had also left numerous projects in a limbo.
However, he revealed that during his recent meeting with Union Home Minister Amit Shah, the latter proposed that whatever project could not be completed would be taken up through Common Minimum Programme (CMP) of NDPP-BJP alliance.
He mentioned that he would meet BJP leaders in order to chalk out all the projects that were yet to be completed or formulated.
Rio stated that one of the major projects was the medical college that required funds from the Centre. He disclosed that the academic session of the college would begin this year and hoped that the State government’s request to upgrade the college into AIIMS-like regional institution would be met.
Rio said upkeep of the institution could be around Rs 15 crore to Rs 20 crore annually and therefore there was a need for the Central government to take care of the expenses.
In his speech, NDPP candidate Dr Kekhrielhoulie Yhome sought people’s support to work together with the government to bring development to the village.
He said it was time to stop discussing about petty issues and focus on the major ones that were hampering development. The programme was chaired by 10 Northern Angami-I AC president V Neiba Pienyü, while invocation was pronounced by Khonoma parish priest, the Rt. Rev Vizosieo Solomon Vizo.
8-Western Angami campaign: Starting the election campaign for NDPP candidate Salhoutuonuo Kruse from 8-Western Angami Assembly constituency (AC) at Khonoma, Rio remarked that Khonoma being a historic village, it was befitting to kick off the campaign from there.
Rio asserted that the NDPP-BJP alliance would form the next government, but assured that if the Naga political issue got resolved, they would step down and pave way for a new arrangement. He further attributed the delay in solution to the division among Nagas and underground groups, that led to holding of the Assembly polls.
However, with the political groups coming together and issuing statement, he said solution seemed to be getting closer and everyone was feeling positive about that.
He said development was hindered in the State and talented people deprived from the opportunity to realise their potential due to Naga political issue.
Meanwhile, narrating the sequence of allotting two tickets to women candidates, Rio claimed that NDPP believed in giving equal opportunities to everyone, gender equality and women empowerment.
He also emphasised on women empowerment and gender equality.
Citing the example of Rano Shaiza, the first Naga woman to represent the State in Lok Sabha in 1977 from Khonoma village, he expressed joy to see Salhoutuonuo from Khonoma standing on behalf of the people.
He commented that history would be created if women members got elected to Nagaland Legislative Assembly (NLA), adding that “this is just the beginning.”
He asserted that electing women as legislators would herald a major change in policy and decision-making process.
Stating that NDPP had allotted ticket to Salhoutuonuo with the hope that people of 8-Western Angami AC would elect her, he pointed out that it was every individual’s responsibility to elect an able leader.
On Eastern Nagaland People’s Organisation’s (ENPO) demand for Frontier Nagaland, Rio admitted that the demand had started in November 2010 and that the State cabinet held meetings and constituted a fact-finding committee headed by chief secretary which found that the organisation’s claims of poor infrastructure and lack of development were true.
Empathising with ENPO’s grievances, he pointed out that the State government had recommended an autonomous council in 2011 and had even written a letter to the Central government in this regard.
He claimed that the organisation had decided to participate in the election process after conclusion of talks, though he refused to divulge the contents due to the Model Code of Conduct and assured that the State government would do whatever possible to ameliorate the eastern region.
He admitted that injustice was done because of the previous census and hoped that with delimitation, justice would be delivered by increasing the number of Assembly constituencies to 80 and parliamentary seats (3 Lok Sabha seats, one each for Eastern Nagaland area, Central Nagaland and Tenyimia area).
Alleging that the Central government did not sanction funds for maintaining roads, while the State did not have resources, Rio assured that more ways and means would be explored to generate revenue when the next government was formed.
He informed that during the last cabinet meeting, it was decided to give priority to roads by setting aside Rs 50 crore for road maintenance.
For developments to take place, he advocated a cordial relation with the Centre and proper allocation of State funds.
Further, Rio pointed out that oil exploration could not be carried out in the State due to Naga political issue and though it was done once, it had to be put on halt since 1994. He remarked that if Nagas had to wait for freedom, they would end up with nothing and therefore called for taking up the issue on priority.
Referring to NDPP’s manifesto of focusing on merit and transparency, he assured that all appointments would be made through proper channel and exams.
He clarified that Nagaland Staff Selection Board’s (NSBB) exam result could not be declared because of elections, but claimed that it was conducted in a transparent manner. He pointed out that people who wanted jobs had to strive hard and not depend on backdoor appointments. He noted that if anything went wrong, the matter would be taken to court and everything would come to a halt.
In her address, Salhoutuonuo shared her vision for youth, women empowerment, equal infrastructure development and representation of both urban and rural areas, skill development and employment, improvement in quality of life of the people through good governance, peace and security and creating a model constituency.


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