As the nation’s attention turns towards the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections in 2024, Nagaland, like the rest of the country, is witnessing significant political developments that promise to shape the electoral landscape. From leadership changes within the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to internal disputes within the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), Nagaland is also becoming a focal point in the run-up to the polls.
Benjamin Yepthomi assumes leadership of Nagaland BJP
Just months ahead of the Lok Sabha elections in 2024, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) National President JP Nadda, on Monday, appointed Benjamin Yepthomi as the new President of the Nagaland state unit of the party, relieving the incumbent President, Temjen Imna Along. Yepthomi’s appointment takes immediate effect, as stated in the organizational appointment letter signed by Arun Singh, National General Secretary and Headquarters In-charge.
Yepthomi, who was serving as the Vice President of the Nagaland State BJP, brings a wealth of experience to his new role. Notably, he had previously held the position of State President for the Nagaland Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM) for two consecutive terms. His successful organization of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s rally in Dimapur during the previous elections and the well-received “Har Ghar Tiranga Abhiyan” have raised expectations for his leadership.
Nagaland Congress appoints new chairman of Communication Department
Meanwhile, the Nagaland Pradesh Congress Committee has also made new appointments, with Temjenyanger Longkumer assuming the role of Chairman of the Communications Department, replacing Wezote Kreo. This change is part of the party’s efforts to revitalize and reposition itself in the political landscape of Nagaland.
Following the setback in the state election but a confidence boost from the victory in the Karnataka state election, the NPCC has been undergoing a significant transformation. It has welcomed new members into the party’s ranks and recently established a Political Affairs Committee. The party has also activated its Public Grievances Department, aiming to address various public issues.
Moreover, the party has provided opportunities to emerging young politicians like Er Thomas Konyak and Er Meshenlo Kath, inspiring youths to join the party.
In recent months, the NPCC has seen a surge in membership, including individuals from the legal community and prominent figures such as the President of the All Nagaland Taxi Association (ANTA) and a former Secretary of the Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party.
Sharad Pawar-led NCP files for disqualification of 7 Nagaland MLAs
However, it’s not just the BJP and Congress that are making headlines in Nagaland. Following the support extended to Ajit Pawar’s camp by seven NCP MLAs from Nagaland in July of this year, tensions have escalated. Seven of these MLAs from Nagaland reportedly landed in Maharashtra today, a significant move indicating shifting loyalties within the party. Sources said they were in Mumbai to visit the central office of the party and to interact with party state president Sunil Tatkare. The MLAs will reportedly be felicitated on Tuesday. All seven NCP MLAs from Nagaland were likely to meet Ajit Pawar on Tuesday.
In response, the Sharad Pawar-led NCP faction has filed disqualification petitions against these seven Nagaland MLAs, as well as a lone legislator in Jharkhand, citing “anti-party activities.”
“The disqualification petitions [in Nagaland and Jharkhand] have been filed against the MLAs [members of the legislative assembly] for indulging in anti-party activities,” said NCP leader Dheeraj Sharma.
The dissident wing of the NCP is aligned with the ruling Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party-BJP coalition government in Nagaland. Furthermore, the faction led by Ajit Pawar has initiated disqualification petitions against ten NCP lawmakers belonging to the Sharad Pawar faction in Maharashtra.
On 2 July, Ajit Pawar officially joined the coalition government of Maharashtra, composed of the Shiv Sena and Bharatiya Janata Party, and assumed the role of Deputy Chief Minister. In addition, his faction unanimously elected him as their new national president. Both factions assert that they enjoy support from 24 state units. The Pawar-led faction has submitted approximately 40,000 affidavits from party workers affirming their loyalty to the party patriarch, while the dissident faction has presented roughly 60,000 similar affidavits.
As Lok Sabha 2024 draws nearer, Nagaland has become a focal point of political activity in the northeastern region. With Benjamin Yepthomi taking the reins of the Nagaland BJP and the Congress party reshuffling its leadership, the state’s political dynamics are in flux. Additionally, the internal disputes within the NCP add an intriguing layer to the unfolding political narrative.