With the last date of withdrawal of candidature for the February 27 pools in Nagaland coming to pass on Friday, as expected, a lot of political drama has been played out. The most significant of them all was Congress candidate N Khekashe Sumi withdrawing his candidature on Friday, thereby making BJP’s Kazheto Kinimi re-elected unopposed. We do not know the circumstances that led to the Congress candidate’s withdrawal but that does not matter. What matters here is that the BJP has started the innings in the best possible manner it could have imagined. Mainstream and national media is showing keen interest in Nagaland Elections 2023, perhaps more than any election in Nagaland before, and the fact that the BJP has already opened its account is read as a sign of good tidings for the saffron party. Mathematically, it is possible for the BJP to emerge as the single largest party in the NLA this time despite its 20:40 seat sharing deal with the NDPP. In the previous election, NDPP won 18 out of the 40 seats it contested in, while the BJP won 12. However, with the LJP(RV) filling up the space left by a weakened NPF, it is possible that NDPP might not be able to significantly increase its tally this time too.


However, the BJP despite already having one MLA in the NLA, even before the votes are cast, it is still too early to blow the trumpet. If reports are to be believed, the BJP is faced with some uphill task in some constituencies in particular. In 59 Seyochung-Sitimi constituency, BJP’s Kashiho Sangtam is in a tight contest pitted against Kipili Sangtam of the NPP. Further, some of the big names in the BJP like Temjen Imna Along, Y Patton and Mmhonlümo Kikon are also faced with some tough opponents. Imna Along is facing a worthy opponent in J Lanu Longchar of the JD(U) in 30 Alongtaki while Y Patton is facing the biggest challenge of his political career in 37 Tyui where NSN Lotha – also of the JD(U) – is giving him a hard time. In 40 Bhandari, the National BJP Spokesperson Mmhonlümo Kikon is facing the NPF Secretary General Achumbemo Kikon and four others. Electoral politics in Nagaland are generally played out along village and clan lines in Nagaland and the outcome of elections are determined mostly by which village supports which candidate generally speaking. Therefore, it is difficult to predict the winners but it can be said without a doubt that it is too early to assume a cake walk for the BJP. This goes against the generally accepted belief that the party in power enjoys significant advantage over the other players.


Like they say, there are no permanent foes in politics and there are no permanent friends either. Even within the same party, there are differences between the leaders who are ready to pull down the other and assume his position if the opportunity is there. One leader of a party hatching plans to ensure the defeat of another leader of the same party in an election so that he maintains his clout in the party unchallenged is not a new thing. Further, the dirty tricks played between political parties even though they are in an alliance usually happen in politics. After all, ultimately, it is all about power and control. It looks like this election is going to prove to be interesting.

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