Eleven major regional parties under the banner of North East Regional Parties Forum (NERPF) Saturday stitched an alliance with the BJP-led NDA for peace and development in the region.
"We (NERPF) have pledged our alliance with the NDA (National Democratic Alliance) to ensure peace and development in the northeastern states. Everybody has witnessed the good work of the previous NDA government in terms of developing our backward region," Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio said.
"We are hopeful the NDA will return to the seat of power and it would continue to restore all developmental projects initiated by (former prime minister) Atal Bihari Vajpayee. The Congress party has failed to impress the people in our region in terms of all-round development. Instead, they (Congress) have betrayed people's aspirations," Rio told IANS at his private residence in Dimapur, the main commercial town of Nagaland.
Rio, the chief architect of bringing together major regional parties under the banner of NERPF, also lashed out at the outgoing Congress-led UPA government, saying it wanted to "isolate and starve" people in non-Congress ruled states by diverting developmental projects to other Congress-ruled states. The eleven major regional parties forming the forum are: the Naga People's Front, Asom Gana Parishad, Mizo National Front, Manipur People's Party, Manipur State Congress Party, Manipur Democratic People's Front, People's Party of Arunachal, Indigenous People's Front of Tripura, and Meghalaya's United Democratic Party, National People's Party, and the Hill State People's Democratic Party. "Their (Congress) tendency is to suppress the people in non-Congress ruled states and their contribution in Nagaland was only imposition of President's Rule and betraying the aspirations of the Naga people," Rio said.
"Prime Minister Manmohan Singh failed to visit Nagaland even when our party (Naga People's Front) extended support to his government. The Congress-led UPA betrayed our people by not implementing the Rs.1,500 crore special package announced by Vajpayee during his visit to Nagaland in 2003." "The centre cannot continue to ignore us, and if we are considered to be a part of the Indian Union, they have to give us the due share and give us a patient hearing. Nobody can ignore us," he said.
Moreover, Rio stressed the need for the regional parties in the northeast to come together and fight unitedly in parliament for the common cause of development of the region. "Northeastern states, as individual governments and entities, are too small and insignificant to impact the balance of power. Therefore, I have initiated to bring all regional parties under NERPF to create power bloc to represent the whole of the northeast," he said.
Allaying political fears about the BJP, Rio, who scripted history in Nagaland by becoming the chief minister three consecutive times, instead termed the Congress as a communal party shielding "certain communities". "I don't know why certain people are against the BJP. They (BJP) have ruled the country before and they have not taken drastic steps against minorities when they were in power," he said. "In Goa, which is known as a Christian state, the BJP is in power and they have not passed any laws which are against minorities. Therefore, allegation against BJP of being Hindutva and communal by the Congress is to blackmail the minorities and play the vote-bank politics," he added.