Naga CM wins crucial round: BJP strongman Patton endorses alliance

New Delhi, July 28 (IANS) After hours of his much talked about statement that he was ‘not consulted’ before announcement of continuing with BJP-NDPP alliance, Nagaland Deputy Chief Minister Y. Patton on Thursday made a U-turn saying the fresh tie up will “provide stability & clarity in governance”.
“… I appeal to our karyakartas to continue working for the party’s growth,” he wrote in a series of tweets.
Patton is a BJP strongman and floor leader in the state assembly. His ‘u-turn’ would bring in relief to the saffron party but more to the Chief Minister Rio and his party, NDPP, who were more than ‘desperate’ for the alliance.
The 40:20 seat share in favour of NDPP was not palatable to several leaders and probable dissidents in the Nagaland unit of BJP and especially Patton. All these players had expressed confidence that there is now “a Tsunami of support” for the saffron party irrespective of the campaign by detractors on Christianity-Hinduism factor.
“The further strengthening of the BJP-NDPP alliance will provide stability and clarity in governance and ensure swift developments. As we ready ourselves for the election, I appeal to our karyakartas to continue working for the party’s growth,” Patton tweeted bringing an end to the entire row.
Sources said some amount of persuasion was ‘required’ to convince Patton to accept the continuing of the alliance.
The BJP-NDPP alliance (exactly 20:40) ratio was a brainchild of the then BJP general secretary Ram Madhav, who is often alleged of having a soft corner for Chief Minister Rio.
Even in 2018 the BJP’s strike rate of 12 seats out of 20 it contested was much better (show) than the NDPP though the latter had contested 40 seats and Neiphiu Rio was projected as the chief ministerial face.
The NDPP could manage a modest 18 out of as many as 40 seats it had contested.
The Patton-Rio relationship had gone sour recently when the Chief Minister took away the juicy portfolio of Roads and Bridges from his deputy. In this case also, Patton had protested that he was not informed in advance and the NDPP argument was that it had consulted BJP’s Nagaland in-charge Nalin Kohli.
On July 26, in an unprecedented move Home Minister Amit Shah met Rio and Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma and allowed a public statement on continuing the alliance.
Patton on Wednesday (July 27) accused Nalin Kohli of not consulting the state leaders including him before signing a paper to announce alliance with the existing partner NDPP for February 2023 elections.
An analyst says: “Amit Shah may have different and complex plans to agree to this alliance. He may give rope to Neiphiu Rio to deliver something.” Is it linked to the stalled Naga peace talks is anybody’s guess.
Rio was earlier urged by the central government to bring in NSCN-IM and its leader Thuingaleng Muivah on board for signing of a peace pact.
As of now the announcement of the alliance is seen as a “pain killer for NDPP” or even a life saving drug.
“But such decisions should not become toxic for the BJP in the Christian-dominated state,” the analyst remarked.
The alliance gives a life saving drug to the NDPP whose leadership lately came under attack on various counts including corruption and promoting tribalism.
“A sinking ship called NDPP was being deserted. Last week (July 18) around 40 leaders left NDPP and joined BJP in Mon district. The alliance was announced by total disregard to the opinion and views of hundreds of BJP karyakartas.
Local BJP leaders feel the goodwill in favour of Prime Minister Narendra Modi should be used to form a BJP government in the state,” one leader remarked on the condition of anonymity.
“Ours is a democratic party but with a centralised mechanism and the party is always right,” the leader said.
There are a few other facets in the entire NDPP-BJP row.
Nagaland BJP leaders and ministers in the Rio cabinet owe allegiance to Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio and did not delay in welcoming the alliance. Most of them also fear defeat in their respective assembly segments in the event of contesting without any alliance with the cash-rich and otherwise resourceful partner.
“The alliance will prove strong and undisputed with blessings of central leadership & Shri. Neiphiu Rio as the Chief Minister for another term,” tweeted Minister Paiwang Konyak, BJP legislator from Tizit.
BJP state unit president Temjen Imna Along, also an alleged ‘Rio loyalist’, also wasted no time to state that he “wholeheartedly welcomed the decision of the central leaders”.
Technically, Shah though a very powerful leader as the Union Home Minister is not authorized to finalise such a political deal in the absence of a meeting of the Parliamentary Board.
Even organisational general secretary B.L. Santhosh and BJP national president J.P. Nadda were not present on the occasion when Shah gave his nod for the alliance.
One source says: “For states like Jammu and Kashmir and Nagaland, often government’s decisions and analyses take precedence. The party will not do anything which may harm the bigger national cause.” All these could imply reference to Naga peace talks.
Rio might have some influence on the NSCN-IM strongman Muivah, it is being presumed.
Importantly, Patton and two other Naga BJP leaders met B L Santhosh in Delhi on July 24 (Sunday) and impressed upon him not to allow the alliance.
The argument was that the general mood in Nagaland was “overwhelmingly” in favour of the BJP and several leaders from other parties including NDPP were keen to join the saffron party.
Santhosh reportedly did not say ‘no’ to these Naga leaders. So far, Santhosh has not endorsed or at least did not tweet anything on the announcement of the alliance.
An influential Naga body, the Naga People’s Action Committee on July 28 announced organising a rally demanding an early solution to the Naga issue.
Hence, it might be the call of the country’s Home Minister and not Shah as a BJP leader.
Resolving the Naga political problem will certainly add a feather to Prime Minister Modi’s cap. Shah as a die-hard Modi man and a shrewd operator must be just doing his job.

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