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Lok Sabha: PDA deploys T Yepthomi; NPF dares back with Apok Jamir

By Our Correspondent Updated: May 10, 2018 2:23 am
Neiphiu Rio, right, hands over the party’s ticket to Tokheho Yepthomi.

Our Correspondent
Kohima, May 9 (EMN): The ruling People’s Democratic Alliance (PDA) on Wednesday announced that it was fielding former minister Tokheho Yepthomi of the Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP) as the coalition’s consensus candidate to take on C Apok Jamir of opposition Naga People’s Front (NPF) in the forthcoming Lok Sabha by-elections.
The PDA issued the ticket to the veteran politician at a function that was conducted in the NDPP’s Kohima region office while the NPF handed over its ticket to Jamir at the regional party’s central headquarters in Kohima town. It was learned that both the candidates will be filing their nomination papers on Thursday, which is also the last day of nomination-filing.
Interestingly, both the ruling and the opposition parties have chosen former congressmen to contest in the May 28 by-election to the state’s lone Lok Sabha seat. Yepthomi and Jamir, who were elected on Congress tickets in 2013, merged with the then ruling NPF during the early part of the 12th assembly in 2015. Both contested in the state assembly elections earlier this year and were defeated. Jamir lost to clansman Metsubo Jamir (NDPP), a newcomer in electoral politics while Yepthomi was defeated in his stronghold Dimapur-III assembly constituency by a former legislator Azheto Zhimomi (NPF).
Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio
According to Neiphiu Rio, it was a record of sorts that the alliance partners decided to take the NDPP candidate as the consensus candidate. He is confident that Yepthomi’s experience and maturity in politics would enable him to do well in representing the Naga people in the Parliament and speak for the people, for the Naga political issue, for the unity of the people, and pursue early settlement of the Indo-Naga political issue. He also expressed optimism that Yepthomi would work hand-in-hand with all the political parties and the government to bring in development.
Rio said that being in the government, the PDA’s candidate may have the upper hand but he cautioned the alliance partners against being complacent. He called upon the 36 elected representatives of the PDA besides the candidates of the recently concluded state assembly election to reach out to the people in their respective constituency. The chief minister announced that the campaign for the election will start at Dimapur on May 16 and public rallies will be held in different regions including Phek (May 18), Mokokchung (May 22), Tuensang (May 23) and Mon (May 24) among others. Insisting on taking the campaign to every section of the people, Rio urged the alliance partners and their units to gear up for an aggressive campaign.
Asserting that the forthcoming be-election will bring the PDA partners closer while also being a sort of a test for them, Rio pointed to the need for them to endeavour to work hard to provide a stable government to the people as well as for development. He expressed hope that the election process would be completed peacefully.
Deputy Chief Minister Y Patton, also reminded the gathering during the event that they need to get to start work immediately — they barely have two weeks for campaign. He assured that all the 12 elected BJP members will ensure that their constituencies perform well. Any constituency that happens to perform badly will have to answer to the party’s high command, he said. Patton urged his colleagues to take the message to the masses that the BJP was only a political party and nothing of what the opposition alleges the organisation to be.
In his acceptance speech, Yepthomi said that the coming elections will be a test for both the opposition and the ruling. If the opposition loses, it will be the beginning of their downfall, and in that case, it will be for the PDA another beginning for it to strengthen its coalition unity as well as in the party.
If elected, Yepthomi said, he would give his best for the Naga people, with the settlement of the Naga political issue as his priority.
Yepthomi also said that if elected, he would give his contribution where and when it was required. He clarified that the by-poll was necessitated as Rio had to resign as member of parliament. Because the state and its people were going through difficult times, he said, they needed Rio’s service.
Assuring to uphold the NDPP’s principles and to give his best in working for the people of Nagaland, Yepthomi sought support.
‘Election necessitated because of Rio’
Speaking at the NPF’s ticket distribution ceremony, Leader of Opposition TR Zeliang did not mince words: the by-elections was necessitated ‘because of the decision of one person, former MP and incumbent chief minister, Neiphiu Rio.’
Zeliang said that ‘due to Rio’s resignation, Nagas were not represented in Lok Sabha for the past more than three months, at a time when the Naga political dialogue was going on at ‘full-swing.’ The This, he said, was a great loss to the Naga people. The Naga people need to understand why they have had to face such an extraordinary situation and a premature by-election, he said.
Zeliang informed the party’s functionaries that with time running out, the party could not convene a CEC meeting and that several party leaders had to take the decision on choosing a candidate. However, he said he was confident that Jamir was the right person to contest in the elections.
Zeliang also candidly said that elections in Nagaland were costly affairs. With the state assembly election having concluded about two months ago, he felt that the Lok Sabha by-poll would take another huge toll on the State Exchequer, the political parties, the candidates, and eventually effect the state’s economy as well besides consuming the voters’ time and energy.
In his brief address, candidate Apok Jamir admitted that the NPF had a daunting task before it, an abnormal situation where constitutionally it had become mandatory that the state should have a by-election to the Lok Sabha in spite of the fact that the assembly election concluded recently. Stating that the election was a constitutional obligation which the people have to abide by, he reminded it was now pertinent for all to again rise to the occasion and make sacrifices for the people and the state. Towards, this, he appealed to all the party functionaries to leave no stone unturned.
He said the last election, the NPF fought with the government on its side as it was the ruling party and had achieved single largest party but the situation and circumstances were such that the opposing party as well as the national party BJP had combined to form the government. Therefore, today, he felt that the challenge was much greater.
“I have taken this daunting task and responsibility because I believe that this party can deliver and realize the aspiration of the people of Nagaland,” Jamir said. Also citing his having served as a member of Parliament in the Rajya Sabha earlier, he was not new to the parliament and that he knows that a lot can be done through the parliament for the people. With the party and its leaders behind him, he said the NPF will put up a good fight, although the task will not be easy.
“We cannot undermine our opponent, they are in the ruling and they have all the important machinery, but our NPF party is a grass root party, we have the experience and we have the commitment to serve our people, therefore we have a very good prospect provided all of us are sincere and committed,” Jamir said. If elected, he said it was his resolve to serve the Naga people in the best interest of the state, and to work for what the Nagas aspire.
“Today is an opportunity for the NPF party to again prove to the people that NPF is the voice of the Nagas,” he added.

By Our Correspondent Updated: May 10, 2018 2:23:54 am