Everybody should work together for peace in Nagaland: Rio


Kohima: Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio on Wednesday said that the people of the state are going through a very critical juncture and urged political parties, including the opposition, to work together for peace and development.

The people of Nagaland do not understand the value of the economy as they do not have to pay income tax, Rio said adding that the mindset of the people needs to be changed so that the state can develop its own resources.

“Nagas are going through a very critical juncture. We have so many issues within the society. We are a land of trouble. We are a land of insurgency and land marked with AFSPA to deal with us,” he said.

Nagaland has been under the coverage of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) for almost six decades and it was not withdrawn even after a framework agreement was signed on August 3, 2015, by Naga insurgent group NSCN(IM) General Secretary Thuingaleng Muivah and government interlocutor R N Ravi in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

“We need peace, development and progress for the youth and younger generation to move ahead. At this critical juncture particularly on Naga issue, we all should work unitedly,” he said.

Leaders of both treasury and opposition benches should come forward, putting public service above party politics, the chief minister said.

Rio was addressing a thanksgiving service on the success of ruling National Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP) candidate Medo Yhokha in the bye-election to Southern Angami-I Assembly segment.

Later, to a query from reporters, he said that he did not understand why the opposition Naga People”s Front (NPF) withdrew from the Joint Legislators Forum (JLF) of the Assembly on Naga political issue.

The NPF withdrew from the JLF in August, stating that it has failed to make any progress to resolve the issue. The JLF, which is headed by the assembly Speaker, was formed more than a decade years ago to assist the peace process.

The Rio government has rejected a proposal by the NPF to disband the JLF and set up a new Parliamentary Forum of Nagaland to be led by the CM.

“We cannot discard the history and hard work of the JLF. Even if a change is required, proper discussions should be held. But the opposition cannot simply decide and tell the government to do what they think,” the chief minister said.

On holding a special session of the assembly to discuss the Naga political issue, Rio said that the government will discuss it and, if needed, “a session will be held in good time”.

The coronavirus pandemic has adversely affected the states economy, he said adding that “unless we build our economy, we will be a liability to one another and to the country”.

“The Government of India is very kind to Nagas as we dont have to pay tax but because we dont pay tax, we don”t know the value of economy,” he said.

The NDPP-led People”s Democratic Alliance (PDA) government has to work hard to reform the society and also change the mindset of the people to be responsible to do “our duties”.

Nagaland does not pay tax but it receives funds from the Centre, which is used for payment of salaries to government employees, pensions, power purchases and other emergencies, Rio said.

The state is currently facing a deficit of Rs 108 crore per month, he said and called upon people to take economic upliftment seriously, he said.

To a question, he said that during his meeting with senior Assam minister and NEDA convener Himanta Biswa Sarma on Sunday in Kohima, they “shared pleasantries and discussed problems We also talked on how to work together and move forward”. On the defeat of the PDA consensus candidate and BJP nominee Lirimong Sangtam from Pungro-Kiphire by-poll, Rio said, “The PDA lost in Kiphire but we strongly feel that people are with us.”

While an Independent candidate won from the seat defeating another Independent, Sangtam secured the third position. PTI