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Opposition NPF pushes for unity among rival Naga groups

By Our Correspondent Updated: Nov 22, 2019 11:42 pm
Newly elected officials of NPF party take oath during a general convention in Kohima on November 22. (EM Images)

Our Correspondent

Kohima, Nov. 22 (EMN): The Naga People’s Front (NPF) on Friday appealed to the Naga people to be more positive towards the settlement of the Indo-Naga issue, during the party’s general convention.

Thousands of delegations from different districts of Nagaland, as well as Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur, attended the programme that was held at Solidarity Park in Kohima.

The party adopted some resolutions during the convention, and appealed to Naga negotiating groups “to come together and bring about early solution”.

It appealed to all the neighbouring states ‘to extend positive cooperation in resolving the Naga issue, for mutual respect and peaceful coexistence’.

The NPF also appreciated the Government of India and interlocutor RN Ravi for understanding the ‘problems of the longest political struggle in South East Asia’.

It also expressed confidence in the leadership of Shürhozelie Liezietsu as president and NPF legislature wing leader TR Zeliang.

‘Can’t sing different tunes’

Zeliang said: “We are at a crucial juncture when the Indo-Naga peace talk is on the verge of a final breakthrough. We cannot afford to sing different tunes and foster divided opinions after 22 years of political dialogue. I am confident that both the negotiating parties on one hand and the GOI on the other will soon come to an amicable settlement with inking of the final settlement.”

He also expressed confidence that the solution to the Naga political issue will be, “inclusive, honourable and acceptable as aspired by the Naga people at large”.

“Adversaries may come up with all sorts of allegations against us but the approach of the NPF party on the Naga political issue is commendable by all measures,” he said. This is because the NPF has always stood for “inclusiveness and worked selflessly in bringing various factions to the negotiating table,” Zeliang added.

“Although success or failure of the Naga political issue does not entirely depend on the NPF party alone, we not only have a clear conscience but we are proud that we have done our best till date. We have all played our part in different ways and we should continue to do so even in the near future as and when called for,” he said.

Last NPF tenure ‘most difficult period’

The NPF led DAN-III government from 2014 May to March 2018, he said, was the “most difficult period in the history of Nagaland Legislative Assembly due to internal crisis within the party”. However, despite all these situations, the party managed to create the “most remarkable achievement” politically and economically within four years of governance, Zeliang claimed.

Zeliang suggested initiating a documentation of the party, which can be put in motion by initially setting up an archive room at the NPF central office. This, he said, will allow people to get a glimpse of the ‘cock party’ and its journey from inception till date.

The challenge before the party workers, he said, is to bring back NPF to power in Nagaland, and he asked them to set aside differences and restore confidence and trust in each other.

Born in midst of ‘blood and tears’

NPF president Shürhozelie Liezietsu reiterated that the party was born in the midst of blood and tears. He highlighted the turmoil that the society underwent and said, “The ‘cock party’ (now NPF) was formed on October 21, 1963 under the name and style ‘Democratic Party of Nagaland’ (DPN).”

He asserted that the 16-point agreement failed to bring peace; and this had necessitated a political party to work towards bringing about peace and open a new chapter for an amicable political settlement. He iterated the party’s stand on integration of the Nagas and expressed solidarity with all the Nagas under different administrative units. He said, “We still remain the same people because we are Nagas by blood, not by choice.”

The president also stated that they have extended their wings to cover all Naga inhabited areas and maintained that the party already has “emotional integration with our people today, except those in Burma (Myanmar).”

“Integration of our people will become a reality one day sooner or later and we are aiming to achieve it through democratic process,” the president said.

NPF impact in Manipur

Awangbow Newmai, president of Manipur NPF unit, lauded the party for ‘standing for truth’. Speaking about the impact of NPF in Manipur, he said that the legislators and politicians never have the “guts to speak about Naga peace talks.” However, the NPF has spoken in support of the Naga peace process ‘for the first time’. “People of Manipur have changed after the NPF candidates were elected as representatives,” he said.

The president went on to say that, even non-Nagas have faith in the NPF and look forward to speak up for them. Further, he appealed to the party workers to put aside personal interests.

Kuzholüzo Nienu, in his address, called upon the party workers to “replace critical thoughts with positive thoughts,” in order to see a difference in the party. On the party members shifting from NPF to other party, he said, “the moment our party became opposition, we have seen many party men and women shifting their loyalties to other parties”.

Shürhozelie retained as NPF chief

One-hundred-eighty members were elected to different positions in the party for the tenure of 2020-24; Shürhozelie Liezietsu retained his position as president. His colleagues, the three working presidents—Huskha Yepthomi, Apong Pongener and Murung Mukunga—and secretary general, KG Kenye also retained their positions.

The former NPF spokesperson Achumbemo Kikon was elected to the post of vice president.

Among the 180 members, 74 were central office bearers; 26 for youth wing; 25 for women wing; 15 for farmers’ wing; 17 for minority wing; seven each for legal cell and medical cell; and 11 for the district divisions.

By Our Correspondent Updated: Nov 22, 2019 11:42:17 pm