Home » Naga Peoples Front: Hit and Miss Report Card

Naga Peoples Front: Hit and Miss Report Card

by Rinku Khumukcham
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By: Aheibam Koireng,

Assistant Professor, Centre for Manipur Studies, Manipur University

Nagaland Peoples Council (NPC) in its 9th General Convention held in Kohima on 18 October 2002 was renamed as Nagaland Peoples Front. A year later, in the 10th Nagaland Assembly Election held on 26 February, 2003, NPF secured 19 seats exceeded only by Indian National Congress (INC) with 21 seats out of total 60. Other parties managed to get only in single digits. A similar situation of hung assembly which occurred 21 years before in the 05 Nagaland Assembly Election, held in November 10, 1982 again happened. In the said hung assembly of 1982, Naga National Democratic Party (NNDP) which bagged 24 seats became opposition in the house while INC led government with support from Independents formed the Government. This is worth mentioning because NNDP is the predecessor organization of NPC which latest incarnate is the present NPF. The SC Jamir led INC Government did not survived for long as Nephiu Rio and K. Therie abandoned INC and joined the NPF.  On 06 March 2003, a Democratic Alliance of Nagaland (DAN) Government with Neiphiu Rio as Chief Minister (CM) was sworn in. In the 11 Nagaland Assembly Election held in 05 March 2008, NPF fielded their candidates in 56 seats out of which only 26 got elected. . But somehow, the NPF led DAN Government with Nephiu Rio as CM was once again formed for the second time. And the only Lok-Sabha seat was bagged the NPF candidate, C.M. Chang in the 15 Lok-Shaba Election of 2009.

 NPF in Manipur

The fourthNagaland People’s Front General Convention of 18 November 2008 culminated to the renaming of it into aNagaPeople’s Front.  Consequently, Party President Dr. Shurhozelie Liezietsu issued an office memorandum on 30 November 2009. With it, NPF no longer confines to Nagaland state only and the purported effort of realizing the underground agenda of aspired Nagalim through aided collaborative constitutional means became all the more obvious.

Results of the 12th Nagaland Assembly Election, 2013

Party Name

NPF

INC

Ind.

NCP

BJP

  JD(U)

Seats Won

37

08

08

04

02

01

A NPF led DAN Government headed by Neiphiu Rio was sworn in on 05 March 2013. Later, Neiphiu Rio gave up his Chief Ministership to contest for the lone seat in the 16th Lok Sabha Election, 2014 which he won with thumping majority. Consequently, Rio, on 24 May 2014 assumed office as a Lok Sabha MP. And T.R. Zeliang, became CM on 24th May, 2014. On 20 November 2015 all the INC MLAs defected to NPF. Surhozelie Liezietsu is the President of NPF Central Head Quarter till date since its inception.

NPF in Manipur

On 01 April 2011, the formation of Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh units of NPF was officially declared and the Manipur Unit was formally opened by MP and then Nagaland Chief Minister, Neiphiu Rio at Senapati on 28th May, 2011. Those who accompanied Nephiu Rio in the said occasion include Dr. Shurhozelie Leizietsu, President of NPF (CHq); T.R. Zeliang, the incumbent Nagaland Chief Minister. Dr. Shurhozelie, while speaking on the occasion exhorted the unification of Nagas as their inherent birth right and also emphasized on the need to integrate all the Naga inhabited areas under one administrative rule which was also reiterated by other speakers. In 10th Manipur Assembly Election (MAE), 2012, NPF altogether fielded 12 candidates.

Nephiu Rio took great interest in the campaign and did whatever at his disposal to enhance the prospect of NPF. In his campaign address at places in Tamenglong, Chandel and Ukhrul, etc, he reiterated that the 10thMAE should be taken as Naga’s referendum and also exhorted that the Nagas have been kept suppressed due to scattered settlement. If it is referendum of Naga’s, as stated, the thumping defeat of G. Gaingam, a very prominent figure of Naga integration campaign, Founder President of NPF Manipur State Unit and former President of UNC, defeat of NPF candidate in Chingai AC with big margin for which the sizeable number of voters is from the Somdal village, a birthplace of the Naga rebel leader, Mr. Th. Muivah are just footnotes to the poor electoral performance of NPF, despite all-out effort by its benefactor.

In the 16th Lok Sabha Election 2014 also, Nephiu Rio and TR Zeliang, the incumbent Nagaland CM and the Convenor of NPF election campaign and in-charge of Outer Manipur Parliamentary Constituency (OMPC) actively campaigned for the NPF candidate, Soso Lorho.To enhance the prospect, Nephiu Rio used helicopters in the campaign and even resorted to unethical means amounting to character assassination of the other Naga candidates in the fray, Prof. Gangmumei Kamei (BJP candidate) and Mani Charanamei (independent candidate & former MP) by calling them as black sheep.  Regardless of their effort and endorsement by Naga organizations in Manipur, Soso Lorho was defeated. Post declaration of Election results, Prof. Gangmumei came out in public stating that NPF Candidate, Soso Lorho shouldn’t held him responsible for his defeat by dividing the Naga votes but had only his benefactor to blame. Who the benefactor is to everyone’s guess?

The incumbent NPF President, Awangbow Newmai had two predecessors in G. Gaingam and Soso Lorho. ‘Cock’, and ‘Fide Non Armies’ translated as ‘By Faith not By Arms’ remains the respective election symbol and motto of the NPF since its inception. The NPF Constitution (6th Amendment 2009) has in the Article II, Clause (2)(c) categorically stated as its aims and objectives: to work for Unity and integrity of the people by integrating all contiguous Naga inhabited areas under one administrative roof and also to provide protection to all the ethnic groups who are indigenous inhabitants of the state. Accordingly, NPF has been seeking fortune in Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh in terms of pursuing for election to political office.

NPF Candidates for 10thManipur Assembly Election, 2012

Dist.

No. of

Cand.

Assembly Constituency/ Name of Candidates fielded

Remarks

SPT

03

1. Karong /Dr. Alexander Pao

Elected

2. Mao / L. Dikho Mao

Elected

3. Tadubi / K. Raina

Second

TML

03

1. Tamei / Athuan Abonmai

Third

2. Tamenglong / Samual Jendai

Third

3. Nungba /  G. Gaingam

Third

UKL

03

1. Phungyar / Honreikhui Kashung

Second

2. Ukhrul / Samuel Risom

Elected

3. Chingai /  Paul Muinao

Third

CDL

02

1. Chandel /  S.T. Nunglung Victor

Elected

2. Tengnoupal AC/  Kh. David Charanga

Second

CCP

01

1. Henglep AC/ Sehpu Haokip

Third

Notes: Dist – District, SPT – Senapati, TML – Tamenglong, Ukl – Ukhrul,

CDL – Chandel, CCP – Churachandpur

Notwithstanding the effort made, their presence in Arunachal Pradesh is still to come to visibility. NPF led government in Nagaland had on two occasions, first on 18 December 2003 and latest on 27 July 2015 resolved to demand integration of all contiguous Naga inhabited areas under one administrative umbrella, and to urge the Government of India to fulfill the same. The NPF Manipur State Unit had welcomed August 03 Framework Agreement of 2015 signed between GoI and NSCN(IM) stating the agreement so signed as a recognition of the Naga’s struggle for Self Determination. 

On 05 September 2015, all the four NPF MLAs submitted their resignation after the State Assembly passed the three bills for the protection of Manipur people. But all four of them reportedly continued to receive their salaries and entitlements till August 2016. This brings to doubt whether or not their resignation is out of their own free will. Later, their resignation was accepted on 15 September 2016. The NPF will most likely to have, honourable solution of ‘Naga problem’ as its main poll plank in the upcoming MAE. The NPF had in the earlier MAE unsuccessfully tried their luck in Henglep Constituency of Churachandpur where there is some presence of Naga and fared badly. Violence erupted at Churachandpur in the intervening night of 31 August and 01 September 2015 over the controversy of passing three bills for the protection of three bills for the protection of Manipur people leading to the loss of nine civilian lives. Naga cohorts including NPF and UNC, the NPF endorsee in Manipur found the opportune moment in it to flaunt solidarity for the stated cause of ‘Tribal Unity’ against the ‘communal government’ of Manipur. The continuing agitation and the refusal to give a ceremonial burial to those even after the prospects of bill becoming an act is ruled out exposes the intention of those sticking to protest. Outer Manipur Tribal Forum (OMTF) was a joint venture of the Joint Action Committee against Anti Tribal Bill (JACAATB) and UNC with H. Mangchinkhup of JACAATB and Gaidon Kamei of UNC as the respective Chief Convener and Convener formed to collectively stand against ‘anti tribal bill’. Sensing something foul Kukis and Hmars have declared the severing of ties with JACAATB just ahead of observing the second anniversary of the Anti-ILP protest started in 31 August 2015. With it covered rift becomes overt. Many Kukis particularly Thadous had been very critical with the enthusiastic opportunism of the UNC which at one time had the impudence of serving ‘Quit Notice’ to the Kukis in Manipur Hills. In fact, those communities who disapprove the movement being piloted by the UNC started dissociating from the JACAATB. The 13 January Lomgmai Noney attack of 2016 at Tamenglong District resulted to the killing of a civilian and injuring three others.  The state police held the NSCN(IM) responsible for the attack. The UNC and later the NSCN(IM) refuted and counter alleged it to be the handiwork of State Police. The allegation seems remote as security arrangement in the area under attack had been in a collaborative effort with the central paramilitary forces. Amidst the refutations and counter allegations, the Vaiphei People’s Council (VPC), Paite Tribe Council (PTC), and Mate Tribe Council (MTC) had on 16 January 2016 by withdrawing all their respective nominated members distanced from the JACAATB. Here, in my earlier writings titled, ‘Rumours and Bloody September: Two Episodes’, it was speculated that the number of NPF candidates fielded in Churachandpur District might increase at least to two. But following the development after the creation of 07 new districts and the 13 January Longmai Noney attack, it is now almost ruled out.

ADC Election Final Results 2015

Party

Ukl

Spt

TML

CCP

CDL

T

INC

02

01

10

05

11

46

BJP

01

08

05

01

02

18

NPF

17

11

08

00

05

43

IND

04

04

01

18

06

34

Notes:Ukl – Ukhrul, Spt – Senapati, TML – Tamenglong,

 CCP – Churachandpur; Cdl – Chandel, T -Total

As of now, NPF took the decision of fielding their candidate in 15 Assembly constituencies, probably all Scheduled Tribes reserved, for forthcoming MAE of 2017. In the last Manipur Autonomous District Council Election of 2015, NPF achieved a modest success little above mediocre. So far, it remains their only silver lining in the otherwise uncertain outcome of the impendingMAE. Despite, the considerable presence of Naga populace, the NPC will not be imprudent enough to field their candidates in the valley districts, as they have in many trying times and circumstances, shown their resolve to remain fraternally co-existed in Manipur.  If the past experience is of any indication, how far the NPF would not betray its motto, ‘By Faith not By Arms’ this time in its pursuit for coming election is a question worth pondering and could be anticipated through the opinion poll by this esteemed media.

 

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