Guwahati :Various groups and political parties in Nagaland have urged the Centre to postpone the upcoming assembly elections in the northeastern state till a final solution to the seven-decade-old Naga insurgency is arrived at.
Groups like Nagaland Tribes Council and Central Nagaland Tribes Council have written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the past weeks with the request to defer the polls. The influential Gaon Burrah Federation of Nagaland, which comprises village chiefs, and Against Corruption and Unabated Taxation (ACAUT) have also written to Modi with the same demand.
The term of the present assembly, which was elected in 2013, expires on March 13 and elections in the state is expected to be held next month, along with Meghalaya and Tripura.
Chief minister TR Zeliang met Union home minister Rajnath Singh in New Delhi and apprised him about the popular “Solution before Election” demand.
“The home minister assured Zeliang that he would convene a meeting on the demand of the Naga people and convey the outcome of the meeting to the Nagaland government,” a release issued by the chief minister’s office said.
Zeliang’s Naga People’s Front (NPF) heads the Democratic Alliance of Nagaland (DAN) coalition government in the state of which the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is also a part.
Last month, the 60-member state assembly passed a resolution urging New Delhi to “usher in an honourable and acceptable solution to the Naga political issue well before the assembly election”.
“We too support an early solution. The Centre has been apprised of the sentiment in Nagaland, and we hope a decision will be taken soon,” the chief of the state unit of the BJP Visasolie Lhoungu said.
The Centre had signed a framework agreement with National Socialist Council of Nagaland (Isak-Muivah) in 2015 on how to resolve the decades’ old demand for creating a Greater Nagalim comprising contiguous Naga-inhabited areas in neighbouring states.
The details of the agreement are yet to be made public. But with six more Naga groups joining the talks last October, there’s expectation that a ‘final solution’ would happen soon.
“When we are already on the negotiating table and on verge of a solution, the election can be postponed. Holding of the election at this stage might also affect the talks,” Tia Longchar, co-convener of ACAUT, said.
But deferring the elections may not be an easy task. According to the Election Commission of India, elections can be deferred or stopped “only in extraordinary circumstances” and “by means of a constitutional amendment”.
“If a solution can be arrived within the next one or two months, the election can be deferred. Or else it should be held on time. Negotiations have been going on for over two decades now, Nagas want a solution which is transparent and accepted by all,” state Congress chief K Therie said.