Political parties agree to forgo elections

Morung Express News Kohima | January 29   The call for ‘Solution not Election,’ caught momentum with ‘all political parties’ for the 13th Nagaland Legislative Assembly (NLA) election deciding to forgo issuance of party tickets or file nominations.  

However, confusion prevailed thereafter with the BJP stating that no one was authorised to represent the Party. While a former minister and State BJP executive member signed the declaration, and the core committee of Naga civil bodies asserted that the state president has authorised him, BJP national general secretary in-charge of North East Ram Madhav, categorically denied it, according a report on indianexpress.com.  

If the Election Commission of India decides to issue an election notification on January 31, a statewide bandh will be enforced in Nagaland on February 1.  

Joint Declaration 11 representatives of political parties—national and regional—in Nagaland signed a Joint Declaration at Hotel Japfu in Kohima in the presence of tribe hohos and civil society organizations, as well as the NSCN (IM) and the Working Committee of the NNPG on Monday.  

“We firmly believe that it is expedient for all political parties, both national and regional, to come together in the greater interest of the State in solidarity with the call for Solution before Election and defer elections to the 13th NLA and allow the Naga political process to reach its logical conclusion by giving space and time to the negotiating groups to bring out an early solution,” stated the Joint Declaration.  

Signatories include I Imkong (on behalf of Indian National Congress), N Hotongse Sangtam (United Naga Democratic Party), S Supongmeren Jamir (Nagaland Congress), Dr. Amos Longkumer (Aam Aadmi Party), Kheto Sema (Bharatiya Janata Party), Alemtemshi Jamir (Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party), Vanthungo Odyuo (Nationalist Congress Party), S Richard Humtsoe (Lok Janshakti Party), T Sangtam (Janata Dal-United), Susank Ghatraj (National People’s Party) and Apong Pongener (Naga People’s Front).  

‘Political process is priority’ The Core Committee of Nagaland Tribal Hohos and Civil Organisations (CCNTHCO), under whose aegis this was achieved, hailed the above as a “historic joint declaration,” stated the CCNTHCO in a press release from its Convener, Theja Therieh, and Co-Convener, Shikuto Zalipu.  

The CCNTHCO remained confident that the Government of India will “honour the deepest desire of the Naga people that there should be a Naga solution before divisive elections are held in Nagaland.”  

Addressing a press conference after the Joint Declaration was made, Therieh said, “We have not seen a single organization opposing what we have decided. Solution before election is what all the organizations are saying in one voice today.”   “Fortunately, two negotiation parties NSCN (IM) and NNPGs Working Committee have agreed to come,” he said, adding, “Yesterday we have a very good discussion and our discussion went for about four hours. There were lots of differences but ultimately we all agreed that we are one.”  

Maintaining that “Unless we come together, we have no future,” the CCNTHCO noted that “Whatever may be the solution, whatever may be the point of agreement, unless the people collectively decide to accept then it is not going to work. What we are asking is it has to be honourable, it has to be acceptable.”  

Therie expressed gratefulness to the Nagaland Joint Christian Forum for bringing all civil societies together. He reiterated that all tribe based Hohos are part of the CCNTHCO and thus “our decision” is automatically endorsed by all tribes.  

The CCNTHCO Convener acknowledged that the political parties were fully prepared to face election but chose to respect the sentiment of the people.  

“They have come to the extent that they have no hesitation in signing a joint declaration. The national parties signed without taking permission/consent from the national party which was a hard decision for them. But they have decided to take a call and take a chance and at the same time taking risk. Especially the ruling party, the NPF, in 1998, when they responded to the boycott call, the party was derecognized and at the same time the symbol was also frozen. They were reduced to nothing. They do not want to travel the same route again, which the party president had been telling over and over again. But they said we will not come in the way of people’s aspirations.”  

And if all the political parties stand by the Joint Declaration, there will be not candidate. “We have full confidence that no independent party will file nominations,” said Therieh, expressing hopes of “full cooperation” from all sections of the society including the district administration, the election department and the Union Home Ministry.  

If the ECI issues election notification on January 31, it will lead to a statewide bandh on February 1, declared the CCNTHCO. To this effect, it made a set of resolutions (see box) signed by Theja Therieh and Co-Convener, HK Zhimomi.  

“We are not against Indian democratic process. We are not against constitutional process. It is not an anti-India movement. But if electoral process is set on roll, there will be polarization and those who are negotiating with GoI will also be divided. They will go towards their own candidates and political parties and we are very sure that political process will be hampered. That is the reason why we say political process is a priority. Election is not a priority,” stated the CCNTHCO.  

Resolutions of the CCNTHCO

  1. The CCNTHCO deeply appreciates the political parties for the January 29 Joint Declaration, which is as per the desire of the Naga people. 2. If the ECI goes ahead with its January 31 election notification despite the January 29 Joint Declaration of political parties, a one day total state-wide bandh will come into force automatically on February 1. However, army & paramilitary, district administration, educational institutions, ambulance and medical services, and media will be exempted. 3. Any candidate or political parties defying the call of Solution before Election, or violating the January 29 Joint Declaration shall be treated as anti-Nagas. 4. The apex tribal hohos shall monitor all the district and sub-divisional HQs from February 1-February 7 so as to deter any unscrupulous and vested interests people from filing nominations. 5. The CCNTHCO appeals to the NBCC (and other organisations) to pray for the success of the call for Solution before Election; and to put on hold the Clean Election Campaign for the moment. 6. The CCNTHCO strongly urges all the candidates to stop the electioneering activities immediately. 7. The CCNTHCO publicly urges the NNPGs to reign in their cadres, if any, participating in the electioneering process. 8. In commitment to the Joint Declaration, the political parties should honour the pledge in letter and in spirit, which also means not attending the political party meeting with the CEO to be held on the January 30.