April 13, 2014

NAGALAND & LOK SABHA 2014


WILL THE NPF CLAIM A HAT-TRICK? 


The results of the state elections held in the North-Eastern state of Nagaland threw up an interesting result. The ruling NPF under Neiphiu Rio won a rather comfortable victory as it ended up increasing its tally by 11 seats to finish with a staggering tally of 37 (Link). While it was still not a sweep, the thing to note was that the Congress, the principal Opposition in the state assembly was decimated. An year down the line as the state gears up to elect one representative to the Lok Sabha, the NPF seems to have the edge. The regional party has won the lone MP seat twice in a row and many are expecting the trend to continue this time around too. The popularity of the incumbent CM still remains high and the massive margin of his victory in February 2013 only re-affirms this. Besides this, as many as seven parties, including the BJP have pledged their support to the candidature of Rio, further boosting his chances.

ISSUES

(1) Political Scenario in the State: In the 60 member state assembly, CM Rio enjoys the backing of about 50 MLAs, including the 37 members belonging to the NPF. After claiming a hat-trick in Kohima, the NPF is expected to repeat this feat even in the General Elections too. While Rio is talking about the work that has happened here in the last 11 years, the Congress has come up with a booklet highlighting the failures of the DAN regime over the last decade. Accusing Rio and his cabinet of indulging in rampant corruption, the INC is hoping that anti-incumbency will work in its favor.

(2) Caught between the Devil and the Deep Sea: The people of Nagaland have to choose between the two major coalitions in the country today - the UPA and the NDA. The UPA regime in its last term has failed on multiple accounts. It has become synonymous with scams, price rise and high inflation. However, voting for NDA won't be easy, especially with Narendra Modi as its PM nominee. Nearly 90 percent of the people here are Christians. Considering the apprehensions that minorities have against the Gujarat CM, there are chances that some may prefer casting their vote for Congress.

(3) Greater Nagaland: This is one emotive issue that politicians in Nagaland raise prior to any election. For long, the people here have demanded the establishment of a new state in the North-East encompassing of Naga dominated areas. On the other hand, several other neighboring states have opposed this since it would compromise its territorial extent. Besides, there is an underground movement spearheaded by terror organizations like the NSCM-K and NSCM-IM. While terror related violence may reduced significantly over the last few years, the issue finds a mention in rallies of both, the NPF and the Congress.

CONTENDERS

(1) The Nagaland People's Front (NPF): The incumbent CM - Neiphiu Rio is the official candidate of the Democratic Alliance of Nagaland (DAN). He is the only Chief Minister apart from Narendra Modi who has filed his nominations for elections to the Lower House in 2014. After ruling the state for eleven years, the sixty-four year old veteran wants a bigger role for himself on the national stage. Off late, Rio seems to be taking a keen interest in the General Polls. Remember, he was instrumental in the formation of the North-East Regional Front (Link) late last year. Moreover, on the campaign trial, he has said that the only way to develop the state and the region is to be a part of the Union government. The regional party has already pledged its support to the Modi led NDA at the Centre, hailing former PM Vajpayee for his work in the North-East. Seven other parties in the state including the BJP, the JD(U), the NCP and four other minor parties.

(2) Congress: The odds are stacked heavily against the primary opposition party in the state. Already infested with in-fighting amongst its state leaders, the grand old party is facing a tough candidate in Rio. Also with the backing of seven other outfits, the NPF seems poised to win big this time around. The INC has nominated senior state leader K V Pusa to take on the serving CM. Pusa had won the state assembly elections four times in a row before losing in 2013.

PAST PERFORMANCES

The Congress was the winner between 1996 and 1999 from the single parliamentary seat here. On the other hand, the NPF has emerged victorious on the last two occasions.

Political Party
2009
2004
1999
1998
1996
Nagaland People's Front (NPF)
1
1
-
-
-
Congress (INC)
-
-
1
1
1

MY PREDICTIONS

After recording a spectacular victory in February last year, I expect the NPF to continue its domination of state politics.

Political Party
Expected Seats
1
Nagaland People's Front (NPF)
1
2
Congress (INC)
0

WATCH OUT

(1) What if Rio wins? Now there will be an interesting situation in case Rio wins the parliamentary seat from here. He has been already talking about a national role for himself and will fight for a ministerial berth in case the NDA, which he is a part of at the moment, comes to power.In fact, even if the UPA wins a third term, the incumbent CM should not have any problems supporting it. After all, the NPF was giving outside support to the Manmohan regime in the last Lok Sabha. If Rio does shift his base to New Delhi, the state is all set to get a new Chief Minister. On the other hand if he decides to stay back in Kohima, then a re-election to the parliamentary seat will be necessitated.

Other posts in this series:
(1) Karnataka & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(2) Rajasthan & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(3) Maharashtra & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(4) Goa & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(5) Kerala & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(6) Assam & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(7) Tripura & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(8) Haryana & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(9) Chhattisgarh & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(10) Jammu Kashmir & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(11) Madhya Pradesh & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(12) Telangana & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(13) Bihar & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(14) Jharkhand & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(15) Sikkim & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(16) Arunachal Pradesh & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(17) Manipur & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(18) Meghalaya & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(19) Mizoram & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(20) Delhi & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(21) Uttarakhand & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(22) Himachal Pradesh & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(23) Gujarat & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(24) Punjab & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(25) Bengal & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(26) Odisha & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(27) Tamil Nadu & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(28) Andhra & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(29) Uttar Pradesh & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)