(Left) C Apok Jamir accepts the NPF ticket for Lok Sabha bye-election from party president, Shürhozelie Liezietsu. (Right) Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio hands over Lok Sabha bye-election ticket to PDA candidate Tokheho Yepthomi. The ticket distribution ceremonies happened on May 9 in Kohima. (Morung Photos)
PDA fields Tokheho, NPF choose C Apok while Congress abstains
Kohima | May 9
Tokheho Yepthomi and C Apok Jamir have been selected as the candidates by the ruling People’s Democratic Alliance (PDA) and the opposition Naga People’s Front (NPF) for elections to the lone Lok Sabha seat from Nagaland state. The beleaguered Congress meanwhile chose not to field a candidate.
The poll is scheduled to be held on May 28.
The PDA declared Yepthomi, a member of the Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP), as its consensus candidate, with Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio handing over the ticket to him in Kohima today. The CM was confident that Yepthomi would speak for unity of the Nagas and pursue for early settlement of the Naga political issue.
Describing Tokheho as capable and dynamic, he said, “We have chosen the right candidate.”
Rio informed that the formal election campaign will be launched in Dimapur on May 16; followed by the PDA holding rallies at Phek (May 18), Mokokchung (May 22), Tuensang (May 23) and Mon (May 24).
Stating that this bye-election will bring the PDA partners closer, he stressed on the need to have better coordination and called upon the legislators and party leader to work together.
“We must win, not only win but with thumping majority,” he said, while also hoping for a peaceful poll process. He informed that “everything is geared up for smooth conduct of election.”
Deputy CM Y Patton also expressed confidence at Yephtomi and extended the support of alliance partner Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). This was echoed by Nagaland BJP President, Visasolie Lhoungu.
Meanwhile taking a u-turn from its previous statement that the JD (U) would also field a candidate, the party however today lent support to Yepthomi’s candidature. Minister for Agriculture and Cooperation G. Kaito Aye informed that the JD (U) have decided to abide by the decision of the PDA and will not be fielding anyone.
Yepthomi meanwhile said he would give his best to serve the people, with more focus on the Naga political issue. He is expected to file nomination on May 10.
Meanwhile the opposition NPF meanwhile handed over its ticket to C Apok Jamir at the NPF central office in Kohima. Jamir is expected to file his nomination on May 10.
NPF President Dr. Shurhozelie Liezietsu said that the ECI’s sudden poll announcement was a surprise, however adding that this is an opportunity to “go to our people once again to share with them our guiding principles and objectives.”
Describing Jamir as a “well mannered, well educated and refined gentleman, having previous experience of the life of an MP,” he said Jamir was “the right man for the right platform.”
The NPF President meanwhile stated that the BJP and the NDPP are “two faces of the same coin.” “Their candidate will automatically become NDA candidate and he will sit with BJP in Delhi even if he returns, because there is no NDPP in Delhi,” Liezietsu asserted.
NPF Legislature Party leader, TR Zeliang also expressed confidence in Jamir and hoped that his humbleness, political experience and sound mind would serve the Naga people. He appealed to the party workers to extend help in whatever capacity to ensure Jamir’s victory.
Jamir acknowledged that the task ahead is daunting. “I have taken this daunting task and responsibility because I believe that this party can deliver and realize the aspiration of the people of Nagaland,” he said.
The Nagaland Pradesh Congress Committee (NPCC) meanwhile said it had no plans to contest. “We had earlier proposed to the NPF for setting up combined opposition candidate to uphold the principles of secularism and democracy. The NPF has gone ahead in announcing their candidate after having agreed in principle to our proposal,” a press note from the NPCC said.
Since Congress cannot support any political party that is aligned with the BJP in one way or the other, the NPCC said it would be meeting shortly to review the situation and issue necessary directives to Congress party workers at all levels on the next course of action.