Expansion of NPF beyond Nagaland: A Naga unification movement (Part I)

By : Gairiangmei M Naga

The Naga People’s Front (NPF) is one of the oldest regional parties in the whole NE India. The NPF-led Democratic Alliance of Nagaland (DAN) ruled the Nagaland state from 2003 to 2008. Again, the NPF-led DAN alliance came to power after the polls in Nagaland Assembly elections in February, 2013. Earlier, the NPF was called Nagaland People’s Party. But now its nomenclature has been renamed to Naga People’s Front along with amendment of its constitution to broaden the scope of its political activities beyond Nagaland State. On 1st April 2011, the NPF was formally declared the formation of NPF’s units in Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh with adhoc office bearers appointed. The main intention to expand the NPF’s units beyond Nagaland State was to work for unity and integrity of the Naga people by integrating all contiguous Naga inhabited areas under one administrative roof. Large populations of Naga people are living in different parts of Northeast region: Assam, Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh and Myanmar. Nagaland Chief Minister, Neiphiu Rio called for an integration of Naga inhabited area under a single administrative unit. The NPF President Dr Shurhozelie said the entry of NPF to Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh was in the light of the four resolutions passed by the Nagaland assembly on the issue of integration of Naga inhabited areas. Replying to a query as to why the NPF did not launch its unit in Assam, as large population of Nagas too lived there, Rio said they could not do so as the election in Assam came closer. The 13th Assam Legislative Assembly election was held in two phases on 4 and 11 April, 2011 and the result was announced on 13 May, 2011. During the declaration of the NPF’s units in Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh, the NPF President Dr Shurhozelie explained the party position for not fielding their candidates in the last election in Arunachal Pradesh. He said when his party had already prepared to take part in the elections; the Election Commission of India did not permit them to go ahead as some procedural incompletion of NPF.

The NPF’s formation of its unit in Arunachal Pradesh created a political storm in the State and it was strongly opposed by the All Arunachal Pradesh Students’ Union (AAPSU), Save Arunachal Forum (SAF), and All Nyishi Students’ Union (ANSU). AAPSU questioned the motive behind the formation of NPF’s unit in Arunachal Pradesh. “The office bearer of NPF Arunachal Pradesh unit should immediately relinquish their post and apologize to the people of Arunachal Pradesh. If not, people of Arunachal Pradesh will teach them a lesson,” stated AAPSU President. SAF in a communiqué said, “The NPF’s move to form its party unit in Arunachal Pradesh should be treated as most unfortunate and rejected outright by every right thinking Arunachalee and the idea of NPF to safeguard the interest of Nagas is simply not acceptable as this trend would set a dangerous precedent in the peaceful state of Arunachal Pradesh”. Disapproving the NPF’s bid to start their Arunachal Pradesh unit, the ANSU termed it as “direct insult on the people of Arunachal Pradesh”.

On 26 May 2011, all Manipur based political parties convened a meeting to discuss the issue on formally launched NPF’s unit in Manipur. Other than the Chief Minister Ibobi Singh, the Congress was represented by Th Debendra, Phungzathang Tonsing and Gaikhangam, the CPI by P Parijat and L Iboyaima, CPI (M) by Sarat Salam and Yumnam Ratan, Radhabinod Koijam of NCP, Ch Ajang Khongsai of NPP and O Joy of MPP. After seriously studying the objectives of the NPF as enshrined in its Constitution and read as “To work for unity and integrity of the people by integrating all contiguous Naga inhabited areas under one administrative roof and also to provide protection to all the ethnic groups who are indigenous inhabitants of the State,” all the representatives of political parties attended the meeting strongly opposed the opening of NPF’s unit in Manipur at Senapati as it would lead to instability of Manipur and spread disharmony among different communities of the State. Congress-led Secular Progressive Front (SPF) Government Cabinet also discussed the proposed visit of Neiphiu Rio to Senapati and resolved to urge the Prime Minister and the Union Home Minister to persuade the Nagaland Chief Minister to defer his proposed visit. Now, the proscribed United National Liberation Front (UNLF) has joined the chorus and it has slammed the entry of NPF in Manipur, terming it a ploy to advance NSCN (IM)’s agenda of disintegrating Manipur. The UNLF also hailed the decision of the people, political parties and the incumbent Government to oppose Neiphiu Rio’s plan as justified.

AMUCO had criticized the SPF Government’s stance on the launching of NPF’s unit in Manipur by saying that if the SPF Government was opposed to the launching of NPF’s unit in Manipur, then why they did not raise any voice when an NPF office was opened at Dewlahland, Imphal on March 31, 2011. It is questionable why the Government first decided to oppose the move before it was reversed after a few hours, AMUCO stated in a press release.

Explaining its justification on the expansion of the NPF’s units in neighbouring states, Dr. Shurhozelie Liezietsu said: “There is no law/rule to stop a recognised political party to extend its activities in any state in the country, adding because the Constitution of India guarantees to all citizens the democratic right to choose the party of their choice which can best represent them in the assembly in as much as an individual has the right to vote for the candidate of its choice.
The United Naga Council (UNC) has been struggling to achieve “integration of Naga inhabited areas”. UNC has been launching Non-cooperation movement against the Manipur Government: Boycott of the Autonomous District Council elections; Severance of ties with the Manipur Government; and Demand for an Alternative Arrangement. But no positive response is forthcoming from the Government of India.
The Nagas from Manipur had extended support to the People’s Democratic Alliance (PDA) and got elected six MLAs to the Manipur State Assembly with the blessing of the UNC. These MLAs could not deliver the expectations of people that the mandate assigned to them. Besides, the All Naga Students’ Association, Manipur had initiated an affiliation of the schools in the Naga areas of Manipur to Nagaland Board. This initiative was also going nowhere.

In 1972, the United Naga Integration Council (UNIC) was merged with the Manipur Pradesh Congress Committee, it was agreed upon that the Congress party would not oppose Naga integration movement as anti-party, anti-national, anti-state and unconstitutional activity. Today, contrary to what was agreed earlier, the Congress party led by Chief Minister Ibobi Singh has been scheming to derail the legitimate cause of the Nagas. Even those Naga leaders like former Chief Minister, Rishang Keishing who was a signatory to the above Agreement and Gaikhangam who is the President of MPCC remain mute spectators to the rule of the Congress party. The national political parties have completely failed to fulfill the political aspirations of the Nagas.

A Critical Analysis of NPF’s performance in Manipur Assembly Election – Part 2 –

A Critical Analysis of NPF’s performance in Manipur Assembly Election
– Part 2 –

NTIMES Facebook *

Nephiu Rio campaigning for NPF candidates in Manipur's Hill districts :: January 21, 2012
Nephiu Rio campaigning for NPF candidates in Manipur’s Hill districts :: January 21, 2012

Somipam Vashum writes, “The inception of NPF was actually the steps towards united Nagas, though we the Nagas were scattered in four states, we can be united through politically in one platform, which is provided by NPF. Many Nagas couldn’t realize that far in the recently conducted election, which is also one of the reasons why NPF failed. It was not wrong to say that the NSCN plays a big role for NPF which was not that favourable because they snatched away the rights of NPF in choosing their candidates. The NSCN leaders chose their choice and at the same time those candidates were not the public choice.

The interference of NSCN frustrated the public as their rights to vote were again going to be denied. Naga people were not ignorance anymore they were exposed to the dynamic world of changed, guns can’t convinced them anymore, they were frustrated by the constant violence created by NSCN. Moreover, the Congress candidates were far more competent as compared to NPF candidates. Therefore in the years to come let NSCN gives freedom to the NPF to choose their candidates, which is competent and energetic not an aging people”

Athing Khamrang writes “Many good points have been shared to this thread. For the Nagas- the recently concluded 10th Manipur Assembly Election was not just an election for electing a representative to the Assembly but it was an election to prove the Unity of the Nagas and to show that we the Nagas in Manipur wants to be integrated with the Nagas living in other parts of the world. In my opinion, the reason why NPF failed in the recent election were:
1. Nagas are more concerned for their own self rather than for the Naga Nation.
2. Today, many younger generations do not understand the values of our identity. If we do really have a concern for our genuine cause and understand the value of our identity, I don’t think a single Naga will vote for any Indian/ Manipur state political party.”

Jeremiah A V Duomai writes, “Some other reasons are given below:
1. The candidates were not the best ones available.
2. The Manipur Naga voters did not simply understand the motive of UNC.
3. Congress party/candidate has so much more money than NPF party/candidate.

Somipam Vashum writes, “The sense of patriotism has lost in the heart of Nagas, we need to build and inculcates the sense of nationalism. We’ve been living under oppression and suppression for too long therefore we’re adapted to it and now we felt contended under the oppressor hand. This is unfortunate, because one day if the Manipur Land Reform Act is passed, we’ll be landless, homeless, refugees and minority in our own land”

Chipen Patt writes, “Here is my view: The NPF made an entry into Manipur at the wrong time considering the geo-political imbroglio that Nagaland and Manipur have. The entry of NPF into Manipur sent shockwaves across Manipur and it awakened the sense of fear in the people out there, the sense of losing their land (districts inhabited by Nagas) to Nagaland and that made the people work against NPF. To sum it up, the NPF should have studied the ground realities thoroughly before venturing into the Manipur election. It all comes down to wrong timing but now that they have taken the first step, let’s hope they fare better next time”

Pips Ningshen writes, “Politics is money making time for larger part of the segment in any society speaking in general politics and money go hand in hand and we cannot deny this fact. Politics without money is a cripple politics now with reference to the above status many have already gone into deep analysis and already knows the cause and effect. NPF cannot make it because they don’t have enough to spend in simple term. Our people politics end up with few Gandhi’s notes and gathering and eating and drinking for that few days before the election at the candidate’s house. This is what we are mostly no matter how they spread our ideology for the cause, remember they are dealing with our village people with village mental set up who can be easily woo with money because who on earth don’t want money. If the opponent spends hundred they should be ready to spend thousand than only they will win. About the Ug’s, if they really want to help, let them not help with force and guns with but suitcase full of fat currency notes.”

Soreingam Kashung writes, “Public are not united; we do not have clear picture about our struggle. We are short sighted and that gives our Brothers and Sisters in Arms a hard time. It makes India Govt. confused about our real intentions and demands. Political candidates took the advantage of this confusion for their personal gain, money, power and prestige. We (Naga Public) failed miserably in our assessment about our struggle. We are confused between rights and short term developments, mindset limited to individual gain instead of society”

Elow Fuzeh writes as, “1. NPF lost because they ambushed Manipur politics suddenly.
2. Public were not aware of what they are to follow.
3. Seeing the unawareness of the public, other candidate beside NPF started bribing the voters.
4. NPF uses UG power to defeat other candidate.
5. Money power rule over the gun; thus NPF fall off”

Shem Shpunii Koh writes, “First, selection of candidates were not democratically done as promised by them; it seems that wealth of a candidate was given prior importance to the quality.
Secondly, pre-poll plan and activities were very poorly planned. They did too little to convince the public, rather they rely more on the muscle power of some UGs. This alienated some of the public from supporting the party.
Thirdly, NPF couldn’t provide a clear cut feasible steps to future course of action but some decorative phrases without judging its implementabilities vis-a-vis Manipur.
Mostly importantly, people were apprehensive that NPF being elected can do much for the Nagas outside Nagaland”

Ephrii Pfoze writes, “TIME FACTOR: To spread the message of oneness and unity and to make the people aware of the policies and agendas in all the Nag a inhabited areas by setting up youth and women wings etc would boost the party but almost the entire public were caught unaware leading to chaos. People failed to see the difference between this election and the previous election. NPF also failed to convince the people.

Leadership crisis: Choosing the right candidate who understands and listen to the sufferings of the common people and work efficiently with the party workers is important. Inefficient leaders and lacking proper mobilization could able to win only 4 seats.

Organisation: Unity between the different organisations is needed for a revolution but we failed because of the loopholes; differences cropped up between the leaders of many organisations misleading the already confused minds of the masses.

POLITICAL LEADERS: Visionless leaders who go against the aspiration and wishes of the Naga cause took the confused minds of the masses as an opportunity for their selfish gains and their lust for power forbids them to gracefully step down and pave the way for the bolder and more passionate people willing to sacrifice more for the cause. We all failed because of those political leaders.

NAGA PUBLIC: Divide and rule policy of the communal Govt. has made the people to live Hand to Mouth. We have been long suppressed and subjugated to unjust ruling and tremendous discrimination by the ruling class, this long suffering make the people to search for immediate relief and survival. Short sightedness and lack of patience among the masses have failed us altogether.

Reconciliation and unity among the public, national workers, political leaders, intellectuals, organisations is the need of the hour to bring forward our cause because everybody has an equal share to contribute to our cause. When the valley people unite together for integrity, we failed to unite ourselves for integration. Our cause will go on and we must learn to correct the mistakes because where there is unity everything is possible”

Some of the common reasons given by NTIMES members:

1. Improper selection of the NPF candidates
2. Weak foundation (lack of preparation) of NPF and too sudden entry into Manipur
3. Use of muscle power by NPF supporters gave a negative impression to the public
4. Gullible villagers were easily influenced by money power
5. NPF campaigners could not convince the public in short time
6. Candidate was weak, and not the party
7. Money is more effective than muscle power in politics
8. The public could not understand the main points of NPF’s manifesto
9. Lack of participation by Naga intellectual in Naga politics
10. Lack of understanding on the part of the people regarding the Naga cause and/or the aim of political unity through a political platform like NPF

In conclusion, we would like to quote one of the members, Adi Vemai, who writes, “NPF have got a very big task ahead. The candidates need to work very hard for the people. NPF entering was one of the reasons why the Congress did very well in all the valley areas”

Concluded … 

Pic: Courtesy: e-paonet

Edited by:
Dr. Thohe Pou, Admin. of Nagalim Times group in facebook.com

A Critical Analysis of NPF’s performance in Manipur Assembly Election (Part I)

A Critical Analysis of NPF’s performance in Manipur Assembly Election
– Part 1 –

NTIMES Facebook *

Nephiu Rio campaigning for NPF candidates in Manipur's Hill districts :: January 21, 2012
Nephiu Rio campaigning for NPF candidates in Manipur’s Hill districts :: January 21, 2012

Nagalim Times (NTIMES) group members in Facebook, the social networking site, gives their comments on NPF winning only 4 out of 12 seats contested in the 10th Manipur Assembly election in 2012. Many expected the party to win most of the seats it contested and therefore winning only 4 seats was argued by many as a failure.

Given below are some of the views shared by the members. We are unable to include all views due to lack of space. Given at the end is a summation of common reasons put forth by members.

Ahem Tuithung writes, “One of the reasons why we failed is because many prominent people lost interest in politics. Most of the voters are villagers and easily tempted with money. I dont see change in the near future because many of the so called “educated Naga youngsters are not interested in politics”

Raymond Ronamai writes, “Our society has changed. People are tired of violence and our Christian values discourages even thinking ill of another person, forget about bloodshed. So, when the insurgents indulged in violent tactics including shooting, kidnapping and beating up civilians, who supported the Congress, the general public was not happy. The outcome of this year’s elections is there for all to see.

Today’s youngsters are exposed to global politics. The scenario will be very different 5 years from now with the young generation taking up the leadership. If the Social Workers resort to violence in the next, it can lead to mass revolution like in the present Arab countries because the educated Naga youngsters may not give in violent tactics easily”

Daniel Yunii writes, “The maiden entrance of NPF into Manipur and their Naga centric agenda makes the meeteis to unite and that is how our congress won”

Christina Panmei writes, “We should not equate NPF with the Nagas of Manipur. The failure of NPF is not the failure of Manipur Nagas. NPF is just a political party like any other political party with its aims and objectives. 1. Its foundation is very weak in Manipur. 2. Its level of campaign is low comparing to other parties. 3. Its entry is quite late in Manipur”

Bishung George Maram writes, “Actually some of our leaders work for our right and they even introduced NPF in Manipur, to let others know what Nagas are. But we Nagas have lots of misunderstanding among ourselves, regarding our Naga issue. NPF failed not because of Party but because of the individual candidates. Our leaders didn’t choose the right candidate; they only run after money.

They never took the views of public; candidates were chosen by just 1or 2 leaders with their own interest. The public do not like forcing to vote and that is one of the main reason some people moved to congress. If the leaders/NSCN and public would have proper discussions before the election about the issue, I believe that 12 out of 12 seats could have been won”

Dipandimmang Kahmei also writes, “Nagas in Manipur are, in fact, candidate-oriented and not party-oriented” Albert Daiho writes, “NPF failed because they were misinformed. Choosing of candidates should have been done properly”

Dominic Kojing Shilshi, writes, “NPF may work out in Nagaland but not in Manipur.
(1) NPF by definition is limited to Nagas
(2) All tribal in Manipur are not Nagas, therefore, NPF further divides the tribes in the state rather than playing inclusive politics. Surely the other tribes in the state will be uncomfortable with their presence, not only the meiteis. In such situation, failure is inevitable. But I must say that they got what they have and they cannot expect more out of nothing”

Thohe Pou writes, ”
1. NPF launched in Manipur too late.
2. NPF campaigners could not convince the village leaders.
3. UNC past mistakes is one of the most important factors for some leaders for not supporting the NPF
4. The villagers do not know the main purposes of launching NPF in Manipur.
5. Many educated people are shortsighted, ignorant and impatient about the Naga cause.
6. The villagers do not see beyond their Candidate.
7. UNC and the NPF leaders could not choose some of the Right Candidates, which has created some misunderstanding and divide the votes.
8. NPF is a threat to Manipur integration for the non-Nagas.
9. Some of the NPF supporters using muscle power, violence and threat created the atmosphere very bad in some villages/towns, which led to go against the NPF party.
10. Money plays a very important role in election but the NPF candidates are too poor to compete with the Congress leaders who are well settled and took the position in well advance”

Christina Panmei writes, “To say NPF does not have good muscle power is too lame. Infact it is due to their excess muscle power some people move away from the party. No one wants to be forced that is the nature of human. If they were to do lots of campaign at the village level well instead of having faith in the power of gun, they would have done much better with the kind of aims they have for Nagas of Manipur. Let’s learn from this mistake and do better next time. As a politician they need to beg the voter and earn their vote instead of forcing them”

Mel Naga writes, “NPF candidates relied too much on muscle power. They thought muscle power with gun will do all the work to put them on the throne, on the other hand, some of the leaders were busy minting money from the congress candidates”

Sanchiyuk Thongam writes, “why NPF fail because no one like communal based politics, no one like to go on threaten as it encroach upon the pride of individual, it’ will be better to remember that Feudalism has died long time ago”

Somipam Vashum writes, “NSCN over look to the people interest, they thought that their judgment are the best which is never true, and I too support when we say that NPF didn’t have time for campaign. The policies and manifesto of NPF is the best for Nagas but sending the wrong person to the right place turns the outcome into looser”

Reis Vashum writes, “Fielding candidates on their personal grounds by few IM sympathizers, relatives of higher commands and forcing, threatening, and physical abuse by the cadres of IM with orders from regional/higher commands makes most of the public to opt to vote for INC and other parties. Instead of begging the public like the other successful political party does; they should understand that we are living in the age where brain n computers work but not Gun and muscle power”

Ephrii Pfoze writes, “People failed to understand that congress will never fight for the rights of the Nagas” Thonii Rozhemai writes, “NPF fail in Manipur because there is no leader to lead them, NPF fail because they are waiting orders”

Albert Daiho writes, “From my 1:1 interaction with the voters, I have found some major factors in Poumai and Mao areas viz: personal gain possibility in the future, buying votes, use of muscle power, village factor, Naga Issue, personal Issues, inter-village factor, relatives factor, policies of the candidate (if the candidate had contested before or is/was in power), capability of the candidate, development. All the factors are not mutually exclusive”

Canaan Kasar writes, “Meities hates Ibobi but because of Manipur integration, they voted him in power. Naga people talks about Naga politics but in reality they know not. Had they understood Naga politics, they would have voted for NPF. Naga people take their decision and not basing on political objective and vision. There is no future for those people who takes decision out of hate, confusion and pride”

Reishang Muinao writes, “As a matter of fact, money can buy the will and choice of most villagers! So it’s not only force that changed the scenario”

Fischer Mimin Haokip writes, ” Whether NPF failed or not, it is laudable that you guys got a political party”

Maya Angkang writes, “Winning 4 seats Out of 12 is not bad in terms of percentage but in terms of FACT its worst. The fact is that if NSCN (I-M) did not involve NPF will not get a single seat. All this 4 seats credit should go to our underground so call freedom fighter. If they dont force the public and threat, NPF will be zero. And instead of realizing their mistakes NPF is so happy and celebrating for their 4 seats. Only God can help NPF. NPF (Need Prayer & Fasting)”

Chenithung Humtsoe writes “The choice lies with our Naga brothers and sisters from Manipur. Take it or leave it, you alone can do it”

Luikham Naga writes,
1. Use of excessive forces by NSCN IM cadres thinking this is the last bus/option.
2. Many educated Nagas who could help mobilize and help win the hearts and understanding of many who are confined in the villages / jungles are away from far home. Just like me and you whose votes are not even cast.
3. Lack of political wills and consciences of our leaders/people.
4. We uses forces, gun and muscles to get votes while they use power, tactics, money and brain to draw peoples attentions to win peoples support/vote.
5. Re-poll and Re-poll was also one of the main factors, which has reduce the expected numbers. Most importantly we’ve failed to understand among ourselves and also failed to acknowledge & controlled the situations. Good that we’ve realised all these. Eventually, let’s wish all the best, support to those 4 elected and keep hoping for the best for the future.

To be continued … 

Photo Courtesy: e-pao.net

Edited by:
Dr. Thohe Pou, Admin. of Nagalim Times group in facebook.com