In this Lok Sabha election, the Nagaland Pradesh Congress Committee (NPCC) is strategically emphasizing secularism as a cornerstone of its campaign. President of NPCC, Supongmeren Jamir, who is also the INC candidate for the lone parliamentary seat for Nagaland in the ensuing Lok Sabha elections 2024, expressed optimism that this focus on secular values will resonate with the electorate, potentially increasing the party’s vote share.

During a press conference held at the Sangtemla Conference Hall in Mokokchung on Friday, Jamir passionately appealed to the citizens of Nagaland to lend their support to a secular party. “I appeal to the citizens of Nagaland to give their vote to a secular party. Congress is a secular party,” he emphasized.

Congress Mokokchung
Congress party workers in Mokokchung after a meeting on Friday, 22 March.

Acknowledging that the Congress have to fight against 60 MLAs this time, Jamir asserted the necessity for a Naga representative in the parliament to advocate for the rights of the Naga community. According to Jamir, the candidates from the Rio-led PDA government are unable to “effectively represent” Naga interests, as they are “allies of the RSS-BJP coalition government,” the Modi-led NDA.

This, Jamir said, is evident from certain laws that are against the Nagas such as the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), Uniform Civil Code (UCC), and the attempt of ‘One Nation One Language’.

Further, he called out the policies in neighboring Assam where Christians are not allowed “to put cross” or have been discriminated against using policies on ‘miracle healing’.

“Minorities are being suppressed,” Jamir said, adding how churches were burnt down in Manipur during the Kuki-Meitei violence.

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While acknowledging that Nagaland is “yet to witness” such harassment, Jamir recalled instances of government actions undermining secularism within the state, including the removal of ‘secularism’ from the preamble by Chief Minister Rio’s administration in a notification. He also reminded how Nagaland was unable to stop the vote counting on a Sunday during the Tapi AC Bye Election, unlike Mizoram.

Reiterating that the PDA candidate (Dr Chumben Murry) is under the BJP, he underscored the urgency of electing representatives who prioritize secular values, urging Nagas to support a secular party like Congress.

Jamir also admitted that the Congress party, even though it tried hard, could not deliver the result in 2023 although 22 candidates contested. However, he said that the Congress ideology remained the same.

“Congress workers have been struggling and are still struggling. This time we have to fight 60 MLAs,” said Jamir, while adding that the Congress will continue to fight for minority rights and expressed hope that Nagas will vote for them on the agenda of ‘Secularism’. He vowed that Congress will fight a ‘clean and fair’ election.

Supongmeren Congress Longsa
S Supongmeren Jamir, Congress candidate for the Nagaland Lok Sabha Constituency, sought the blessings of his village elders on Thursday, 21 March. He hails from Longsa village, Mokokchung district. (Photo @INCNagaland/X)

Echoing Jamir’s sentiments, former INC candidate Toshipokba urged the Naga people to safeguard secularism and protect minorities by rejecting the BJP.

Congress Working Committee member Imkongmeren Jamir informed this newspaper that Congress workers plan to conduct door-to-door campaigning and that they intend to seek the assistance of Panchayats and Village Councils during their campaign efforts. He also mentioned that they will meet with and encourage people to vote for the party.

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Meanwhile, female members of the Congress party shared with this newspaper that they have observed a recent increase in support for Congress from neutral voters. “These days, many people want to give Congress a chance mainly due to the heightened attacks on religion,” shared one Mahila Congress worker.

“We understand that defeating the NDPP candidate may pose a challenge, but as the sole opposition party, we remain hopeful that voters will prioritize values over monetary influence. Therefore, we anticipate a positive outcome,” expressed another member.

Mokokchung Times

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