Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio on Monday expressed his hope that the Naga political dialogue would soon end with a positive solution.
After casting his vote at Tuophema polling station in Kohima district, he said that it is very significant and encouraging that the NSCN-IM and the Naga National Political Groups (NNPGs) on January 14 issued a joint declaration that they would strive forward to expedite the Naga peace talks with the Central government, protecting the Naga culture, tradition, identity and history.
"Naga people want solution to the decades-old Naga issue, lasting peace and development," he said, adding that the joint declaration has given them more hope that the issue may get resolved at the earliest.
"Even though the Naga political issue has not yet been resolved, the crime rate in Nagaland drastically reduced and the state is in top position in the country for reduction of crime."
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Eight other Naga armed groups a few years back came together under the banner of NNPG.
About the demand of the Eastern Nagaland Peoples' Organisation (ENPO) for a separate state of 'Frontier Nagaland', the Chief Minister said that the Centre had invited them for discussion and made them understand that their demands would be considered after the Assembly elections.
Following the assurance from Union Home Minister Amit Shah, the ENPO had withdrawn its poll boycott call.
The Union government has been holding separate talks with the NSCN-IM and the Working Committee of NNPGs since 1997 and 2017, respectively. The Framework Agreement with the NSCN-IM was signed in August 2015 and the Agreed Position with NNPGs in November 2017. The NSCN-IM had entered into a ceasefire agreement with the Centre in 1997 and has held over 80 rounds of talks -- within and outside the country -- but nothing substantial came out as the government could not allow them to have a separate constitution and flag.
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Rio, also a top leader of ruling Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP), is seeking re-elections from the Northern Angami-II Assembly seat for a record seventh consecutive term. Accompanied by his wife and three daughters to cast their vote, he said: "The NDPP and the BJP would comfortably come back to power with more than the absolute number of seats."
The NDPP is contesting the election in 40 seats while its ally the BJP has fielded candidates on 20. In all, 12 political parties comprising national and state parties are in the fray.