KOHIMA: With National Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP)-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leading in 28 constituencies in the 60-member Nagaland assembly, it looks like one more state may soon where the saffron party will be part of the government. It has been a close fight in the state elections with Naga Peoples Front (NPF) close behind leading on 26 seats. The others are leading in six seats.
The BJP had contested the polls in Nagaland in alliance with the newly-floated NDPP where the two contested in 20 and 40 seats, respectively. The voting was held in 59 of the total 60 constituencies on February 27 as three-time chief minister Neiphiu Rio of the NDPP was declared elected unopposed from Northern Angami-II constituency.
Even as the BJP fought with NDPP as its ally, the NPF headed by Chief Minister TR Zeliang had passed a resolution in January 2018, saying the outfit wants to continue its alliance with the BJP.
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Keeping all options open, Union Minister and BJP leader Kiren Rijiju on Saturday said that the BJP did not dump the NPF neither did it quit the NPF-led government. He added that if the BJP's pre-poll alliance with the NDPP failed to reach the half-way mark in the Nagaland assembly, it would have an "understanding" with the ruling NPF to form a new government of the three parties in the state.
Expressing its desire to form a government in the state, the BJP on Saturday declared that Neiphiu Rio will be the CM candidate of the alliance if the results are in its favour. "Our chief ministerial candidate is Neiphiu Rio (NDPP leader). But if we do not cross the magic mark, then we will have to have some kind of understanding that the party's leadership will decide," Rijiju said. He said a seat-sharing agreement could not be reached between the BJP and the NPF but such a pact was finalised with the NDPP headed by Neiphiu Rio, one of the founding members of the NPF.
"As of now, in the present government, the BJP is in alliance. We have two ministers in the TR Zeliang government. So we are already there. Since our alliance is with the NDPP, we would like to have a comfortable majority with the NDPP. In the event of a hung assembly, there is no problem because there are major three parties - the BJP, NPF and NDPP. The NPF has already sent (us) the resolution...and with the resolution, there is no issues left," Rijiju added.
Meanwhile, Nagaland Chief Minister and Nagaland Peoples Front (NPF) candidate TR Zeliang retained his Peren constituency defeating his nearest NDPP rival Iherie Ndang by 5,432 votes. Zeliang bagged 14,064 votes while Ndang of the Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party secured 8,632 votes.