The Naga Hoho, an apex Naga tribal body, on Sunday objected to the holding of elections in Nagaland next month before the insurgency issue in the state was resolved and indicated that it may ask political parties to boycott the polls.
A delegation of the Naga Hoho, which has been camping in the national capital for the last few days, met several central leaders, including home minister Rajnath Singh and voiced their opposition to the polls before a peace pact between the Centre and the Naga rebel group NSCN-IM.
“All tribals, civil society, political leaders have come together and said in once voice that they want a solution to the Naga issue before elections,” Naga Hoho president Chuba Ozukum told PTI in Delhi.
The 60-member Nagaland Assembly will go to polls on February 27.
Asked about their course of action, Ozukum said: “We will be compelled to ask candidates not to contest the polls.”
“At any cost, we do not want polls. The people of Nagaland want solution not elections,” he said.
The Naga Hoho president said the home minister told them the Centre would continue its peace initiative in Nagaland, and asked them to cooperate in the election process.
“The home minister said the central government is committed to finding a political solution,” he said.
Ozukum said the Naga Hoho would take a final decision on its stand after consultations with political leaders and other civil society groups.
Earlier this month, the Naga Hoho had conveyed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi that for the Naga people a Naga peace accord was more important than elections and therefore, it had become imperative to defer polls for peace and tranquillity.
Expectations for a lasting peace have soared in insurgency-hit Nagaland after the Centre and the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (Isak-Muivah) entered a framework agreement in 2015.
The NSCN-IM has been engaging in peace talks with the Centre’s interlocutor since 1997, when it announced a ceasefire agreement after a bloody insurgency movement that began shortly after the country’s independence.
The insurgent group’s key demand to integrate the Naga- inhabited areas of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam and Manipur has already been rejected by the central government.
President Ram Nath Kovind had in November 2017 said Nagaland was at the threshold of making history as the final agreement on the issue would be arrived at shortly.
Nagaland governor PB Acharya had on September 19 said the vexed Naga issue would be resolved within the next few months.