Dimapur: On Friday, United Democratic Alliance Chairman TR Zeliang said his joining, along with 20 other Naga Popular Front (NPF) MPs, to Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio’s Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP) was aimed at preventing a “third” to enjoy Nagaland. electoral politics vis-à-vis the presence of two strong regional parties in the state.
When asked if he meant the BJP by a “third party”, Zeliang replied that it could be the BJP, the Congress or any other party.
According to him, when there are two strong regional parties in the state, a third party benefits.
The former chief minister called a press conference at 7and Mile to Chumukedima to clear up some confusion that had surfaced in the public domain after the 21 FNP MPs joined the NDPP on March 29.
Responding to the question of whether he had jeopardized his political career by joining the party of the chief minister in Rio, Zeliang said: “It will not lead to any arguments.”
He explained that the recent political development was not an overnight decision but was the result of extensive deliberation between the NDPP and the NPF since 2021.
“Since the day the NPF left the Joint Legislators Forum (JLF) on the Naga Political Question and formed the Political Affairs Mission in 2019, collective efforts have been made to facilitate the resolution of the Naga Political Question.
“This call for unity among the elected members, especially the two regional parties in the state, the NPF and the NDPP, echoed louder as there was an impasse in the political dialogue between the Government of India and the Naga negotiating groups,” he said.
Zeliang said that due to the ongoing political dynamics, the idea of having a strong regional party in the state has resurfaced and talks have been held quietly at the highest level to work out an acceptable formula to merge. the two regional parties – NDPP and NPF.
Although the first option was for the NDPP to join the NPF, he said, it did not work. Later, the second option of NPF MPs joining the NDPP was explored to strengthen the hands of the Chief Minister and bring stability to the government.
“As it was a consensus decision that the two regional parties should come together and form a strong regional party, it was not a sudden step for the NPF MPs to finally merge with the NDPP,” added Zeling.
He added that NPF Chairman Shurhozelie Liezietsu was also well aware of the developments and had even mentioned in a press interview that he was not surprised by it.
Claiming that the 21 deputies consciously made the decision in accordance with the law of the land, Zeliang cited a change in the 10and Annex to the Constitution.
He said after the amendment to clause 4(1) of 10and Annex to the 2003 Constitution, if two-thirds of the elected members of a political party decide to join another political party, they can do so with or without party officials.
“According to section 4(2), whether the party comes with MPs or not, the word ‘deemed to have taken place’ implies that if two-thirds of a legislative party agrees to merge with another political party, then it should be taken that there was a merger for the purposes of Article 4 of 10and Annex to the Constitution,” he added.
“In our case, since the 21 MPs comprising two-thirds of the legislative members belonging to the NPF have agreed to merge with the NDPP, under Section 4(2) or the 10and Appendix, it is clear that the merger is constitutionally valid,” he said.
He stressed that the merger of 21 MPs from the FNP with the NDPP is legally correct and should be treated as a merger and not as expressed by some leaders.
Zeliang also urged party leaders or MPs to get up to speed with the law of the land before expressing their own opinions out of ignorance of the law of the land, which may mislead the general public.
NPF Chairman Liezietsu called the NPF MPs joining the NDPP a defection and not a merger, while asking how MPs from one party can merge with another party without the party.