NPF will open account in Manipur poll: Rio

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KOHIMA, JAN 17: Nagaland chief minister, Neiphiu Rio, has expressed optimism that his party, the Naga People’s Front (NPF), will open its account at the forthcoming polls to the Manipur Legislative Assembly.

Talking to the media at his official residence recently, the chief minister said that the NPF is contesting the elections not to sit in opposition but to form the next government in Manipur in alliance with other political parties.

Rio said it is too premature to summarize how many of the 12 NPF candidates would emerge victorious. He also informed that he would be visiting all the four Naga districts of Manipur as part of the election campaign. The chief  minister who have  already addressed election rallies in Senapati district, will be visiting Ukhrul, Tamenglong and Chandel districts from January 19 to 21.

Rio informed that the launching of NPF in Arunachal Pradesh will be done at an appropriate time. He stated that in Assam the NPF is having an alliance with indigenous people groups.

Rio also disclosed that some Naga underground groups were not happy with NPF for not giving party tickets to candidates supported by them in the forthcoming Manipur assembly elections. Despite the similarity of objective in fighting for the Nagas, NPF is not an underground political party, he added.

On the ongoing peace talks between the Government of India and NSCN (I-M), Rio said that the state government did not know how far the talks have progressed and to what extent the negotiating parties had confidence and respect for each other.  Queried on the proposed visit of the NSCN (I-M) leaders Isak Chishi Swu and Th Muivah to Zunheboto, the chief minister informed that when the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) sought the views of the state government, the latter, after consultation with the Sumi Hoho, had given the green signal to the MHA.  Rio  said it is unfortunate that the MHA has not given the clearance for the NSCN (I-M) collective leaderships to visit Zunheboto.

Rio said that with the unity and reconciliation process among the underground groups taking place and consultation going on, it was not advisable to restrict their movements. “I am not questioning Government of India but it may not help the peace process if they are to do this,” Rio said. He stated that Government of India should understand and trust the Nagas and at the same time should know the history of the Nagas.

He said that since the 16 points agreement under clause 13, integration of Naga inhabited areas, the then Naga People Convention (NPC) had clearly stated the desires of Nagas to live under one administrative umbrella.   “This is the birth-right of Nagas. Nagaland Legislative Assembly had passed four resolutions unanimously for the integration of Naga inhabited areas. Moreover, the Article 3&4 of the Indian Constitution clearly gives provision for redrawing of state boundaries”, he added.

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