Dissidence in Nagaland BJP: Ahead of polls, workers demand state president's ouster

The dissidence brewing in Bharatiya Janata Party's Nagaland unit came to the fore on Wednesday as more than a hundred leaders and workers participated in demonstrations, demanding the ouster of state party president Visasolie Lhongou.

The agitating party members alleged that Lhongou was sabotaging the party to politically benefit the ruling Naga People's Front (NPF).

The rift within the party comes at a time when the BJP state unit is already under attack following the Centre's decision to impose a ban on the sale of cattle for slaughter.

BJP Nagaland. Representational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

Speaking to Firstpost about the resentment among the office bearers, IK Sema, BJP advisor for Nagaland, said, "The main problem the Nagaland unit of BJP is facing is that the state president is not actually working to bring the party to power. He is acting more like a ruling Naga People's Front leader than a BJP one."

He also said that the state president was nominated by the saffron party's central leadership in Delhi, on the advice of the NPF leadership.

NPF, that has been in power in Nagaland for the last three consecutive terms, is an old ally of the NDA. The saffron party, with only four MLAs in the state, share the power in the state by dint of this alliance, which makes the central leadership's stance towards the NPF relatively soft.

A source in the state BJP told Firstpost that Lhongou, on the pretext of this alliance, has forced the saffron party to play second fiddle to NPF in Nagaland.

"If we work hard and apply proper strategy, we can certainly win over the state in the election to be held early next year. But when the party president himself is working for another party, then Prime Minister Narendra Modi's vision to integrate the region with the national growth agenda will remain a mirage," he added.

Explaining why the state president is suspected of sabotaging the party, HK Khulu, a worker of Nagaland's BJP unit said, "When Nagaland was boiling against the NPF-led state government's decision to hold Urban Local Body elections with 33 percent reservation for women, earlier this year, the state president gave the green signal to go ahead with the elections in a meeting held with the cabinet without any discussion with other leaders of the party."

Khulu also said that there were rumours that the BJP president is going to contest the upcoming election with a nomination from NPF.

He maintained that until and unless the leadership of the state BJP unit is changed and the party is reorganised, the chances of the party winning were weak.

"Last April, we let the central leadership know about these problems. The ball now lies in the central leadership’s court," he added.

The agitating leaders and workers demonstrated in front of the party office in Dimapur on Wednesday, holding placards in their hands.

A press release signed by Sema alleged that in August 2016, the state president had leaked a document of decisions made by the BJP leadership in Nagaland to the then chief minister – who is an NPF leader.

The release also alleged of the dictatorial functioning of the state chief. It said that he dropped six office bearers of the party without any consultation with advisors, senior colleagues or legislators.

"The Political Affairs Committee (PAC) had clearly recommended reinstating three senior office bearers – James Vizo, Mghtao Achumi and Yanghose Sangtam. But the state president, instead of acting on it, called the PAC unconstitutional," the release said.

BJP's alliance with the ruling NPF has been a constant cause of concern for the saffron party's office bearers.

On 10 November last year, a team of BJP leaders in the state had handed over a memorandum to Governor PB Acharya, alleging massive corruption in the NPF-led government.

A source within the party told Firstpost: "The ruling NPF is facing powerful tides of anti-incumbency against it. If the alliance continues, it may harm BJP's prospects in the upcoming election."

But, after the memorandum was submitted to the governor, three of the office bearers were dropped from their positions, which only intensified the suspicion against the state president that he was working on behalf of the NPF.

But Lhongou dismissed such claims. Speaking to Firstpost, he said, "I do not know what the intention of the dissident group is. State BJP has been functioning as per the directives of the central leadership of the party."

He also rubbished the rumours that he is going to contest the upcoming election on an NPF ticket.

Updated Date: Jun 01, 2017 12:30 PM

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