Despite the fact that the election is being held in Nagaland, it is impossible to turn a blind eye to the regional players from Bihar that have been going all out to contest the Nagaland Assembly elections on February 27.
The bitter rivalry between the Janata Dal (United) – Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) on one hand and the Lok Janshakti Party (Ram Vilas) on the other in Bihar has transcended their state, region, and culture.
JD(U) supremo and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar visited Nagaland last October on Jayaprakash Narayan’s 120th birth anniversary, claiming historical ties. In 1964, Narayan was a member of the Nagaland Baptist Church Council established peace mission with the then-Assam CM BP Chaliha and Anglican priest Michael Scott as the other members.
Since 2003, the JD(U) has been contesting elections and winning seats in Nagaland, forcing its Bihar rival Chirag Paswan’s LJP(RV) to enter the state’s electoral battlefield with 19 candidates for February 27 polls. The new entrant LJP(RV) has already enlisted the support of five incumbent NDPP MLAs who were denied tickets.
The RJD did not run in the 2018 elections, despite having contested two seats in 2013. Former MLA and RJD national general secretary Bhola Yadav claimed the party performed admirably in 10 of the 25 Nagaland Assembly seats it ran for in the 2008 elections.
The Lalu Prasad-led RJD, which will contest five seats in Nagaland Elections 2023, has declared that if it wins any seats, it will not join any coalition government involving the BJP, though it will consider other post-poll alliances.
LJP (RV) spokesperson Vineet Singh told Indian Express that their party’s Nagaland unit has been very active in the last 2.5 years. He also expressed their desire to have a presence throughout India and added that they are looking for a national party tag.
However, Singh also stated that one of the reasons they are contesting in Nagaland is to oppose Nitish Kumar’s style of governance. “Wherever JD (U) and RJD are present, we will be a hurdle to them,” he told Indian Express.
Meanwhile, LJP (RV) president Chirag Paswan has stated in a tweet that his party will not field candidates in any constituencies where the BJP is contesting.
Kumar Sarvjeet, RJD leader, has accused the LJP of acting as a BJP’s proxy in order to make them suffer, claiming that the BJP does not want any regional parties to be powerful in any state.
Regional players have made inroads in Nagaland after years of attempting to establish themselves in Nagaland state politics, claiming a historical relationship with the state, and even eyeing national party status.
However, it is critical for the players to understand Nagaland politics. G Kaito Aye, now an NDPP candidate in Sataka, was a JD (U) candidate in 2018. This made no effect on his political fortunes or the future of the JD (U) in Nagaland, as he quickly pledged his allegiance to Neiphiu Rio and gradually abandoned Nitish Kumar’s party. Will the winners, if any, from Bihar origin parties LJP(RV), JD(U) and RJD or the other parties like NPP, NCP, RPI(A) follow Kaito?
Other than the two national parties, the Congress and the BJP, no other Indian political party has established a strong presence in Nagaland. The formation of government after March 3 will be a test of Nagaland politics and its changing dynamics. Otherwise, it has always been said that the government in Nagaland will always ally with the party in the center.