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NSCN (I-M) shadow looms large
over Nagaland elections
G Vinayak in Kohima |
February 23, 2003 16:56 IST
The looming but unseen presence of the National Socialist Council of Nagalim (Isak-Muivah) and the Naga peace talks are two burning issues ahead of the February 26 elections to the 60-member Nagaland assembly.
While the BJP is harping on the ongoing peace talks between the Centre and the NSCN (I-M), the Congress is focusing attention on the militant outfit's effort to prevent the party from retaining power by harassing and intimidating its party workers.
The BJP is debuting in the state in alliance with several anti-Congress parties while Chief Minister S C Jamir has led the Congress government in the state in the last decade.
All across the state, the BJP has put up posters proclaiming the
Atal Bihari Vajpayee government's 'success' in getting the Naga peace talks off the ground.
Nagaland BJP general secretary Ato says, "For 50 years, the Congress failed to find any solution to the Naga problem. The ongoing peace process is the outcome of sincere efforts by our leaders like Vajpayee and (Deputy Prime Minister Lal Kishenchand) Advani. To continue this process, we need to have a government in Nagaland that favours peace talks."
"We want to bring back peace followed by development in our state. To ensure that, our party will act as a bridge between the Centre and the militants," said former chief minister and BJP leader Hokhise Sema, who was earlier with the Congress and served as governor of Himachal Pradesh.
The Congress ridicules the BJP's claims.
"It was Congress prime minister P V Narasimha Rao who set the ball rolling in the mid-1990s by meeting the two NSCN (I-M) leaders abroad. Subsequently, our government in Nagaland did everything possible to facilitate the process, including steps like withdrawing police cases against the two NSCN (I-M) leaders," points out Chief Minister S C Jamir.
However, Jamir's claims are not backed by the actions of the NSCN (I-M), which is increasingly being seen as an anti-Congress outfit.
Reports of NSCN (I-M) cadres and leaders intimidating and harassing Congress workers across the state are increasing even as the polling date draws.
Nagaland Congress vice-president and its official spokesman Khriedi Theunuo says, "NSCN (I-M) cadres and in some cases even senior leaders are abducting, harassing and intimidating our supporters. We have asked the Election Commission to step up security and take necessary precautions."
"It is as if the electoral battle is between the Congress and the NSCN (I-M)," he adds.
The militant outfit denies all such allegations.
But an alarmed Election Commission on Saturday directed the state government to step up security.
Under the circumstances, the latter has requisitioned three battalions of the para-military Assam Rifles in addition to the existing army and CRPF battalions.
Poll analysts in the state expect to expect stepped up violence, and more cases of abductions arson in the run-up to the elections slated for February 26.