Kohima, May 16 (EMN): The opposition Naga People’s Front (NPF) on Wednesday kicked-off its campaign for its Lok Sabha candidate C Apok Jamir in Kohima on a defensive note. Addressing a rally at the Ura Academy Hall in Kohima village, the NPF’s president Dr. Shürhozelie Liezietsu said it was time for the Naga people to ‘know what is black and what is white’ and ‘speak the truth.’
Without offering names, Liezietsu said that the people ought to know who had been responsible for ‘putting the Nagas and the state in multiple crises during the last four years and why the forthcoming Lok Sabha by-election was necessitated.’
The NPF chief did not waste time in criticising rival People’s Democratic Alliance (PDA) for talking about the welfare of farmers, or education reforms in their election manifesto which, he claimed, were issues an MP need not be concerned about.
Liezietsu was also sceptical about the Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party claiming to be a regional party while ‘eating with the BJP in one plate.’ He said that the people cannot buy anything with just one side of a coin. Therefore, the NDPP cannot be called a regional party when it was ‘sharing one bed’ with the Bharatiya Janata Party, a national party. Justifying the NPF’s previous alliance with the BJP for 15 years, he said they ‘did not share anything except for being coalition partners in the assembly.’
Here, Liezietsu pulled out the communal card. He stated that minorities across the country including Christians were being persecuted by the RSS, of which the BJP was a political wing. He asserted it was time to speak the truth that if one was to become Hindu, they can vote for PDA’s candidate Tokheho Yepthomi. But if the people want to vote for the Nagas, for secularism and for the Christian faith, they should vote for Jamir, he stated. He lamented that many Nagas have ‘become blind with the love of money’ and cautioned that an alien force was penetrating the land. The by-election presents an opportunity for the Nagas to prove whether they want to protect their identity or sell it out, he said.
The NPF leader described Jamir as a humble, educated, and a gentleman who has the advantage of having had the experience of being a member of Parliament (Rajya Sabha) in the past. He said that the NPF had chosen the right person to represent the Nagas in Delhi.
In his address candidate Jamir said that the PDA launched its campaign on an attractive slogan ‘Together for all, development for all.’ But when translated into Hindi it reads ‘Sabka saath, sabka saath’ which he said was the same slogan with which the BJP had gone into the 2014 parliamentary elections. He said that the slogan had borne tremendous hope for the people of the country but the reality today was nothing short of failure. The candidate wondered about the relevance it may have for Naga culture and traditions and ‘Naga aspirations.’ The present challenge is not merely about an MP election but a fight to stand for Naga aspiration, identity and the Nagas’ stand on the truth in the Parliament, he claimed.
The candidate added that he had accepted the daunting challenge with his ‘thoughts on the Naga people.’ His victory will be a victory not just for the NPF but for the Naga people, Jamir added.
The NPF’s legislature party leader, TR Zeliang, also addressed the event. He said it was the NPF-led Democratic alliance of Nagaland-III government that had worked to bring together all the Naga political groups together; through this endeavour, six groups started a political dialogue with the government of India.
Zeliang stated further that it was too early to question the PDA government as it had just completed two months in power and ‘there was no roadmap for any concrete development program for the state.’ Nonetheless he said that the opposition was ‘compelled to react’ as the PDA had started ‘claiming achievements with false commitments’ such as to improve road connectivity in all the 12 district headquarters within 100 days. Later it stated to do so in 60 days with INR 60 crore, the gathering was told.
Those 60 days just got over, he pointed out, and asked the gathering if they had seen any progress on the roads. He said that the opposition knew the claims would end up ‘a mockery’ as it did not require technical knowledge to determine the impossibility of providing quality road in 60 days, that too in rainy seasons.
“Such false commitment should have been avoided if technical officers tendered the right advice because in Nagaland the rainy season starts by April,” he said.
The former chief minister also cried foul at the appointment of party functionaries as ministers and functionaries with cabinet status, and high government ranks. He said that the opposition MLAs were happy that the new government had decided to do away with the ‘VIP culture’ and they had willingly given up their benefits. But, he lamented, the PDA pumped in random appointments from the backdoor.
Thirdly, he said the PDA’s claim that INR 100 cr. was released for village development boards (VDB) was a sham ‘as that amount was roped in during his time as chief minister to disburse to the VDBs.’ He stated that right before the Christmas of 2017 the DAN government brought in INR 283 cr. for the VDB as part of NGREGA funds.
‘NPF to sweep Kohima, Phek in majority’
TR Zeliang also asserted that Naga voters do not take MP elections very seriously and underscored the need for the state’s electorate to understand the importance of exercising their franchise. Nonetheless, he was of the view that the NPF would have a thumping majority in Kohima and Phek districts. He claimed that National People’s Party candidates from the 8th Western Angami and 11 Southern Angami-I assembly constituencies have pledged to support the NPF. The only threat he felt would come was from the chief minister’s areas Northern Angami-II and Southern Angami-II. In Phek district, Zeliang was sure that all the four assembly constituencies would return in NPF’s favour except for Pfutsero constituency where the NDPP has a seat.
NPF pulls a block to throw punch at PDA