Cong for tie up with NPF for LS polls

Cong for tie up with NPF for LS polls
Staff Reporter DIMAPUR, MAR 11 (NPN) | Publish Date: 3/11/2019 12:03:01 PM IST

With Nagaland set to go to the polls on April 11 for the lone Lok Sabha seat, the political scenario in the state throws up two alliances- ruling PDA and the other, a possible understanding between the opposition NPF and the recently rejuvenated Congress.

The current sitting Lok Sabha MP, Tokheho Yepthomi is from the NDPP and a consensus candidate of the PDA. It is likely that Tokheho would remain as the lone contender as the unanimous candidate of the PDA. He had won the Lok Sabha by-poll in May 2018 over the NPF candidate C. Apok Jamir by a margin of over 1.7 lakh votes.

In the by-poll to the lone Lok Sabha seat, the NPF and Congress had forged a strategic understanding by setting up a common candidate from the NPF.

While the PDA is all set to roll out its election machinery to retain the seat, the opposition NPF will also not let an opportunity go by in putting up a consensus candidate like the 2018 by-poll.

With the return of former veteran leaders back into the Congress fold, many more from the Nagaland Congress are also in line for the homecoming, said a source from the party.

The Congress source told this Reporter, that the party was keen to set up a consensus candidate along with the NPF.

For the Congress, a continuation of an understanding with the NPF appears quite ironic since the state party president and high command were totally opposed to having any truck with NPF in the DAN-III government because the BJP was also a constituent. As a result of the manner in which they were almost shown the door, the party lost all eight MLAs on November 21, 2015 when they merged with NPF. 

Both Tokheho and C. Apok who fought the May 2018 by-poll, were among the eight Congress MLAs who merged with the NPF in defiance of the directive of the party president and party high command.

The Congress under Dr. S.C. Jamir, was the dominant party when its vote share in 1993 was a huge 46.02% for the 35 seats it won. The regional party NPC, the forerunner of NPF polled 32.82 % of the votes in 1993 and won 17 seats.

In 2003, the Congress under veteran leader Dr. S.C. Jamir saw a decline in its vote share when it polled 35.8% and won 21 seats. The same year in 2003, the newly formed regional NPF, under former Congress leader Neiphiu Rio got 29.76% of votes and won 19 seats. The vote swing away from the Congress then was around 13%. Despite being second largest party, NPF with the remaining parties-- BJP (7), NDM (5), J-DU (3), Samata Party (1) and Independent (4) NPF formed the government (DAN-I) headed by Neiphiu Rio, a former Congress leader.

In 2008 the Congress, without Dr. Jamir who became Governor of Goa, got a vote share of 36.28% , around 3% more than in 2003. The party won 23 seats two more than in 2003. The ruling NPF got lesser vote share of 33.62% but won 26 seats, seven more than in 2003. The Congress failed to win over other non-NPF elected members despite UPA being inclined to tip the scales due to infighting within its leadership.

The assembly election in 2013 saw a steep decline in vote share when Congress managed only 24.89% for only eight seats. That same year saw a huge swing for NPF when it outdid the Congress by polling 47.04% of votes and winning 38 seats.

The assembly election in 2018 was a straight contest between two regional parties-ruling NPF and its offshoot, the newly formed, Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP) and where the Congress was nowhere in sight. 

In the 2018 election NPF polled 38.78% of votes and won 26 seats while NDPP polled 25.30% of votes and won 18 seats. The BJP performed well polling 15.31% of votes and winning its highest tally of 12 seats. In 2003, BJP had won seven seats. On the other hand, Congress in 2018 got a dismal 2.07% of votes polled and drew a blank.

The 2018 election came after a majority of Congress veteran members left the party in 2016 due to differences with the NPCC chief. The condition of the party was such that there were hardly any takers for party ticket.

The by-election in the same year also saw the party gravitating towards NPF, the party it had bitterly opposed since 2003. 

Congress workers are buoyed by the return of former veteran leaders and Naga veteran Dr. S.C. Jamir taking on the role of mentor. It would need more than homecomers and a few newcomers to gain lost ground for the Congress since financial resources decide the fate of politics and political parties.

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