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Home > India > News > PTI

Nagaland: Congress wants deserters to come back

February 21, 2008 09:15 IST

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Rattled with the twin problem of defection and resignation after the selection of candidates for the ensuing assembly election in Nagaland, the Congress has called upon all the deserters to come back and work for the party.

Those who had left should come back as the Congress can accommodate them by  giving more responsibility, All India Congress Committee secretary in-charge of Nagaland Ranji Thomas said.

He said the party felt and recognised the pains of those who were left out in the race for party tickets for the ensuing election, but they should understand the AICC's sole criteria for distributing tickets to aspirants was the "winnability" of a candidate.

Thomas pointed out there were many leaders who are not part of the government at the Centre, but not in any way less capable than Union ministers.

On resentiment among some members of Congress' women's cell, Thomas said the party asked its woman workers to apply for tickets, but only a single aspirant lobbied for a particular constituency where the chance of winning by a nominated male candidate seemed to be more.

So her name was dropped by AICC, but she understood the situation and vowed to work extensively for the party during electioneering, he said.

Congress' desparation stemmed from the fact that despite defections of Democratic Alliance of Nagaland coalition partners after the No Confidence motion against the Neiphiu Rio government and the subsequent demand for dissolution of the alliance government, the immediate advantage in favour of  the party, was followed by defection by a sizeable number of leaders when they were left out in the list of nominees including former Speaker Z Lohe.

Following the defection spate in the DAN, 19 legislators joined Congress and asked for party tickets. But the Congress dropped party veterans while accommodating at least 10 defectors.

Lohe, who won elections on Congress ticket since 1985, immediately after defection was made Nagaland People's Front adviser and joined Rio's campaigning trails visiting district after district.

Another senior Congress leader and former cabinet minister and speaker Neiba Ndang also did not find his name in the party list.

Senior Congress leader K L Chishi conceded that the distribution of tickets, leaving out many party stalwarts, has cost the party dear in the run-up to polls.

Chishi, who has, confined his campaign within own constituency, on Wednesday received a shot in the arm when AICC poll observer for Nagaland Sanjay Nirupam exhorted voters in Dimapur -I to vote for him.

Congress Legislature Party leader I Imkong also addressed a series of meetings at different places under Mokolchung district, a traditional Congress stronghold, explaining why the party should be brought back to power ousting the NPF-led alliance in Nagaland.

Calling upon senior politician Lohe to come back to the party fold, PCC vice-president Nuzota Surho, nevertheless, claimed his desertion would hardly have any impact on Congress in Phek district, comprising five assembly segments, in particular and the state in general.

Launching a tirade against his old party, Lohe described the Congress as a 'betrayer and a divided house' grappling with serious leadership crisis.

Significantly the NPCC has not officially projected any leader as its chief ministerial candidate in the poll like NPF, citing its tradition to elect CLP leader by the elected legislators in consultation with the Congress high command.

However, both present CLP leader I Imkong and former chief minister K L Chishi are in the race for the top post with both pitted against NPF in Jangpetkong (Mokokchung) and Dimapur-I constituencies respectively.

Meanwhile, countering NPF's views on the emergence of regional parties and coalition regimes in the country's political landscape, the NPCC media cell has urged the smaller parties in the fray not to believe in the words of the NPF alleging it had betrayed alliances like the Janata Dal-United and Samata during the DAN regime.

As part of the bid to curry favour with the smaller parties, the NPCC assured that in the event of a coalition after the March 5 polls, the Congress would treat others equally after deciding to go alone sans any pre-poll understanding.

However, rivals including Rashtriya Janata Dal, Nationalist Ccongress Party, JD-U, besides the Bharatiya Janata Party have hinted they might opt for a post-poll alliance with NPF if the situation demanded.

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