Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio leads charge; invites people of Nagaland to be part of the PDA-initiated change
Eastern Mirror Desk
Dimapur, May 15 (EMN): The People’s Democratic Alliance (PDA) on Tuesday launched its campaign for its candidate for the Lok Sabha by-elections, Tokheho Yepthomi in Dimapur – the candidate’s home constituency/town.
Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio spearheaded Tuesday’s campaign in front of a packed crowd at the Dimapur District Sports Council Stadium. He dangled the opening bait by inviting and appealing people to be a part of the change that is being brought about in the state by the PDA government.
While expressing gratitude to alliance partners – BJP, JD (U), NPP and Independent – for unanimously endorsing the Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party member Tokheho Yepthomi as the consensus candidate of the PDA, Rio listed some of the key decisions taken by the PDA since coming to power this year: including ban on VIP and chief guest culture, repair and maintenance of roads etc.
He also assured that all scholarships meant for students and salaries for teachers have been released; the rural development household allocations and incentives of Village Development Boards (VDB) has been released for the next 3 years, and the remaining grants will be released soon.
Rio also reminded that the PDA has announced an ex gratia of INR 5 lakh to the families of students who die while studying outside the state.
The chief minister assured that systematic release of funds will continue once enforcement of the model code of conduct is withdrawn by the ECI upon completion of the electioneering process. Other important decisions include setting up of an investment and development board, preservation of environment and wildlife, promotion of young entrepreneurs etc.
Besides this, he also reiterated that the various Naga tribes have festivals every month of the year and hence, it was necessary to have Mini Hornbills festivals in collaboration with the respective tribe hohos and further said that indigenous recognised tribes of Nagaland like the Kukis, Garos, Kacharis etc., will have equal rights, equal opportunities and equal protection. “There will be no injustice. We will deliver justice to the people,” Rio remarked.
In the field of sports, he said that the PDA has announced different policies including a biennial sporting event of the Nagaland Olympics Association and the Special Olympics. He assured an exclusive infrastructure for the differently-able.
Reminding that 11 more days were left for active campaigning across all the districts, the chief minister encouraged the alliance’s leaders from all districts to make the public understand the importance of the by-elections and what the government stands for.
Rio also expressed profound appreciation to the 14 tribal hohos who had a meeting with the Political Affairs Committee and the PDA on May 11 wherein it, among others, resolved to request the Nagaland Legislative Assembly to reconstitute the Joint Legislators Forum (JLF) in order to strengthen the efforts being made towards the peace process.
Rio appealed to all other Naga groups including the NSCN (K) to join the peace process. He assured that the PDA will extend full support to the Forum for Naga Reconciliation (FNR), civil societies and NGOs which are working towards the peace process to find an early settlement.
And then he blasted the NPF, who has also pitched a candidate in the person of C Apok Jamir. “The NPF has partnered with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and (the) Congress over the years to save and run the government,” he said while stating that the NPF ‘was not a regional party but one that has feed many lies to the people’.
Stating that the opposition’s habit of constantly changing alliance has ended up confusing the people, Rio questioned why the NPF did not raise the allegations of the BJP being ‘communal and anti-Christian’ during their 15-year alliance. “Not one Naga Christian who has joined the BJP has converted to Hinduism,” he reminded while stating that the “murga party” is a party that speaks “only lies”.
The president of Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP) and chairman of the PDA, Chingwang Konyak also took a jibe at the opposition saying that the NPF leaders have been hypocritical.
“The NPF is merging with the Congress party after saying that they are Hindu, now the same allegation is being said against the BJP,” Konyak said. “There has been instability during the previous four years because of the leadership (quality). Today the PDA has a leader who has already proved himself as a capable chief minister previously.”
The working-president of NDPP, Alemtemshi Jamir said election to the parliament was “serious business” as the ‘destiny of the people of Nagaland is decided’ through this. “The Member of Parliament seat will play a pivotal role in the settlement of Naga issue.”
According to him, the people of Nagaland should choose a person like the NDDP candidate Yepthomi to the seat because the latter ‘knows the problems of the people from the grassroots level’. Jamir also reminded that Apok Jamir has previously served as a Member of Parliament for 6 years during which the state ‘did not receive much development’.
Will get Naga political issue ‘ready’ – Tokheho
Tokheho Yepthomi, in his address, took a dig at the NPF party remarking ‘we have come to know who is better through the 2018 electoral battle and our former chief minister has enjoyed his time before being ousted’.
During his eight-minute-long address, Yepthomi played the Indo-Naga political card saying: “With the directive of the government and state chief minister, I will get the long-pending (Naga) political issue ready.”
“Although I had lost the recently-concluded state assembly elections, the PDA government led by CM had chosen me with trust. If God has chosen my day and with the support of the people, I will represent Nagaland but my originality (sic) is Dimapur as I have always contested from Dimapur constituency,” shared Yepthomi. He therefore appealed Dimapurians ‘to keep aside all hard feelings and vote for PDA’.
The PDA government has fielded Tokheho Yepthomi, a veteran politician, to represent Nagaland with a hope that his political acumen will prove a meaningful representation inside the Parliament and voice out and protect the rights of the Naga people, according to the deputy chief minister of Nagaland, Y Patton.
“The present PDA government under the leadership of Neiphiu Rio is committed to play the role of an active facilitator to the ongoing Indo-Naga political negotiations in support of an early solution guided by the Framework Agreement signed on Aug. 3 2015,” he maintained.
Patton, who is also the leader of the state BJP Legislature Party, confuted BJP as a party with ‘religious conviction’ as he said: “BJP has nothing to do with religion. It is just a political party and I appeal that the church leaders should also support BJP.”
Minister for Agriculture and Cooperation G Kaito Aye in his address said Dimapur district alone has 2 lakh voters and transformation will start from Dimapur. He appealed citizens of Dimapur to support Yepthomi ‘as a PDA government candidate’.
Advisor to Industries and Commerce Imnatiba, in his brief address, requested voters not to play ‘ism’ in politics for the by-election or cast vote along ‘tribal lines’.