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Senapati, Manipur: As the Naga People’s Front (NPF) campaign kicked off at Senapati in Manipur on Wednesday, the Naga Political issue and repeal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) took centre stage.

Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio led Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP) joined its alliance partner’s kick-off ceremony for the 10 NPF candidates that was attended by around 1,000 party workers.

Addressing the gathering, Rio said although the NDPP was “comfortable” with its BJP alliance in Nagaland, it has decided to form an opposition-less government under the United Democratic Alliance (UDA) to pursue for an early solution to the protracted Naga Political issue.

While the NDPP is a member of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), and the NPF is in alliance with the BJP in Manipur, he said the political parties are also part of the North East Democratic Alliance (NEDA). In this regard, Rio said, “There should be no restriction for me to come here and campaign for the NPF candidates for the Manipur elections.”

Saying that it is a “mass movement” party for the Naga cause, Rio said he has showed up in Manipur to show solidarity to the NPF.

To support the NPF, according to him, is to show Naga unity and facilitate the Naga issue towards achieving a solution.

Highlighting how the law and order situation in the Naga areas of Manipur has improved under CM N Biren Singh-led government and NPF MLAs and MP have made the presence of the Nagas felt in the state, Rio hoped for the continuation of the present relationship, further hoping that non-violence policy may continue and the two neighbouring states may grow side by side.

CM Rio also urged the Nagas in Manipur to unite and exercise their franchise for the Naga cause during the elections.

Further saying that the Naga political issue is a “partial success”, he urged the Nagas to unite and take a step collectively towards facilitating the Naga issue as “Nagas want a solution”.

After a solution is brought about, he said many good things will come including an increase of seats in the Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha and the state Assembly. He said that there is a need for representatives as Nagas should be visible under the Indian Union, and the voices of the Nagas must be heard in Parliament.

AFSPA repeal

Highlighting the Mon incidents, where 14 civilians were killed by security forces, Rio reiterated the Nagaland government’s demand to repeal the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) 1958, which was implemented in Nagaland during the peak of insurgency.

Following the incidents that took place in December last year, Rio said there has been a cry to repeal the draconian law and the matter was taken up with the Centre.

While repealing the Act may take time, he said that the state wants AFSPA revoked, except along the international border, and areas where there are problems along the inter state borders.

Till the time the Naga issue is resolved, he shared uncertainty over whether AFSPA may remain or not.

NPF prepared to face any obstacle: TR Zeliang

Leader of the NPF legislature wing and UDA chairman TR Zeliang said the NPF as a party is prepared and ready to face any obstacle.

“Let the world say anything but the NPF party will continue to stand by our motto- solution through peaceful dialogue and not by armed conflict. I can assure you that we will achieve our desired goal sooner than expected with our unwavering determination and hard work,” he said.

According to Zeliang, the challenge right now is to bring the 10 NPF candidates to the Manipur Legislative Assembly. “Let the desire to work for the cause and upliftment of our people be ignited,” he added.

Also read: Nagaland reports 39 fresh COVID-19 cases, tally mounts to 35,274

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