Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio Friday asserted that the ruling Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP) would not merge with its ally BJP in the state.
Rio said this in response to Nagaland Congress president K Therie’s allegations that the NDPP is contemplating merging with the BJP after the assembly polls, due early next year.
Interacting with reporters on the sidelines of an official programme at Kisama in Kohima district, the chief minister claimed ”As the leader of NDPP, I had never said anything like that.
“Congress has cooked up the story and not us. It is up to them to question their integrity but who are they to question my integrity?” In 2003, Rio became the Chief Minister of Nagaland for the first time as leader of the Naga People’s Front (NPF) with the support of the BJP as an ally. The NDPP was formed by NPF rebels who supported Rio, then a former chief minister, and split to form the Democratic Progressive Party. In 2017, the DPP changed its name to NDPP. The BJP broke its alliance with the then NPF in 2018 and joined hands with the NDPP to contest the state elections. “The pre-poll partnership will continue, but I don’t know anything about the post-poll merger,” said Rio.
On the Congress speculations that Rio and central leaders of the saffron party are contemplating having elections in Nagaland by December this year instead of February 2023, he said “to have early polls is not our demand… we do not know what the government of India is thinking but we would prefer to have the elections on time”. The Nagaland Pradesh Congress Committee (NPCC) had on Thursday claimed that the NDPP is trying to install a BJP government in the state. NPCC president K Therie told a press conference that the recent declaration by allies NDPP and the BJP that the two parties would jointly contest the 2023 Nagaland Assembly election on a 40:20 seat-sharing formula was aimed at forming a BJP government in the Northeastern state.