Amid push for peace accord, ‘all is not well’ in Nagaland BJP

By Niren Dev

By Niren Dev

Sep 9, 2020

New Delhi: In the midst of heightened efforts being made by the Centre and other stakeholders
to resolve the vexed issue of Naga insurgency, all is not well within the state unit of BJP – which is sharing power  with a regional partner.

A group of office bearers and other leaders from the state unit are camping in Delhi these days
braving the Covid19 social distancing norms and meeting central BJP leaders highlighting
the faultline in the party.

State leaders Yanghose Sangtam, Mughato Achumi, K. Doulo and M Chuba Ao, a former State BJP president, are among those who have landed here from Nagaland.

These leaders either separately or in groups have met key Central leaders, including BJP general secretary (Organisation) B L Santhosh , and apprised them of the alleged ‘autocratic style’ of functioning of state unit president Temjen Imna Along, who is also a minister in the Neiphiu Rio-led NDPP-BJP government.

The meeting comes in the wake of reports that the Centre is keen to finalise a peace accord by September end.

Of course, there are issues in the peace parleys also as the potent militant group National Socialist Council  of Nagaland (NSCN –IM) has raised banner of protest against the incumbent state Governor R N Ravi, who is also the interlocutor at the talks.

The NSCN (IM) had joined the peace process in 1997 and their objection to the ongoing talks which is at final stage  is related to the Central Government’s categorical rejection of their demand for a separate Fflag  and constitution.

However, NNPG (a conglomerate of seven rebel groups operating in Nagaland) are keen to sign the peace pact with the Government of India.

The ‘rebel’ BJP leaders camping in Delhi also met NSCN(IM) chief Thuingaleng Muivah and underlined that there is need to keep the peace process on and not allow it to derail.

The rebellion within the Nagaland unit of the BJP turned serious recently when several legislators and office bearers opted out of a virtual meeting with senior party leader Ram Madhav. As in-charge of the northeast, Madhav addressed the state  BJP executives but it was given a miss by some office bearers and elected BJP MLAs as well.

The rebel camp who want replacement of the present BJP president Along has accused him from time to time of playing second fiddle to the NDPP.

Along has been accused of “giving upper hand to the regional partner NDPP” and in the process hurt BJP’s prospects and organisational expansion of the saffron party base in the state.

“Our party has better acceptance in Nagaland than the NDPP and Mr Along is not allowing thousands of Nagaland BJP Karyakartas take this benefit,” alleged one rebel leader.

They also want one man-one-post norm, under which too, Along either needs to quit as a minister or as the  Nagaland unit president.

The rebels have also taken exception to recently Mr Along having signed a paper critical of the Governor R N Ravi, who is an appointee of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The rebel camp says in the 2018 assembly elections also, the BJP strike rate was better when the party picked up 12 seats out of 20 seats it contested. In contrast NDPP had contested 40 seats in the 60-member assembly and could win only 14 seats.

Earlier, in Nagaland, BJP’s partner in the state was the Naga People’s Front. But in 2017 the NPF split and Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio floated NDPP.

Mr Along is allegedly helping create such situation that NDPP continues to remain a dominant player in the  state politics and Neiphiu Rio the de-facto state leader.

Sources in the Imna Along camp, however, strongly counter all such allegations of the rebels and say at present  there are 3.5 lakh BJP members in the state and the party has grown under his leadership.