Insurgency, Naga integration main poll issue in state

April 14th, 2009 - 11:40 am ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata Party Kohima, April 14 (IANS) The Congress and the Nagaland People’s Front (NPF) are locked in a direct fight for the lone Lok Sabha seat from Nagaland, elections for which will be held Thursday in the first phase of the general elections.
Electioneering in the mountainous northeastern state is at its peak with both the parties harping on the pet theme of resolving the decades-long Naga insurgency problem and integrating Naga-inhabited areas in the northeast.

“We are committed to working out a modality for lasting peace in the state,” Asungba Sangtam, Congress party candidate and two-time MP from the state, told IANS.

His rival, C.M. Chang of NPF, a candidate backed by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), minces no word in accusing the Congress-led government ruling the country of doing nothing to settle the Naga problem.

The Isak-Muivah faction of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN-IM) entered into a ceasefire in August 1997. The NSCN and the Indian peace negotiators have held about 60 rounds of peace talks, but there is no breakthrough yet.

Resolving the Naga insurgency apart, both the parties are promising integration with the state of Naga-inhabited areas in the rest of the northeast, a concept mooted by the NSCN-IM.

The rebel group wants the creation of a “Greater Nagaland” by slicing off parts of neighbouring states of Assam, Manipur, and Arunachal Pradesh that have sizeable Naga populations.

“We fully stand for Naga integration into one administrative unit,” the Nagaland Pradesh Congress Committee booklet said.

“If Nagaland has to prosper then we should strive for Naga unity and reconciliation and for taking the peace process forward,” Congress candidate Sangtam said.

“During every election, the NPF becomes the champion of the Naga cause by talking about Naga identity, Naga culture, Naga problems and so on. But once the election is over their beautiful agenda and their high promises for Nagas become invisible,” he added.

The NPF is the dominant partner of the Democratic Alliance of Nagaland (DAN) government in the state, which is home to over 1.3 million voters.

“The way people are supporting us in our election campaigns, I hope, our candidate would win this time by a record margin,” Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio said.

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