A week after opposition parties joined forces with the Nagaland government, Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio announced the new coalition would be called the United Democratic Alliance (UDA). Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio said that its new name will be United Democratic Alliance (UDA), thus ridding it of opposition. Rio said he received approval from legislators of the Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP) and the People’s Democratic Alliance (PDA), the BJP, the Naga People’s Front (PFA) and independent MLAs.
Following the death of one MLA, the Nagaland Assembly now has 59 members. Despite winning 25 seats in the 2018 assembly election, the then opposition party NPF previously suspended seven legislators for anti-party activities. A total of 34 MLAs make up the NDPP-BJP-Independent coalition that formed the PDA government. According to the NPF, CM Rio was contacted on July 19 by the NPF in order to request an all-party government to settle the Naga political issue as soon as possible. Rio-led People’s Democratic Alliance and NPF passed a resolution promoting Naga peace talks a month later. Nagaland’s opposition parties have, however, not joined forces with the government for the first time to find a durable political solution. As the longest-running insurgency, it began during British rule and continued long after Nagaland became an independent state.
The National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSC-IM), the largest rebel group in Nagaland, signed a ceasefire agreement with the Centre in 1997, which was renewed in 2015, when the Opposition Congress joined the Democratic Alliance of Nagaland led by the Chief Minister. There is now no opposition in the assembly. Eight Congress legislators had been suspended because they supported the BJP-allied Democratic Alliance of Nagaland government. Zeliang inducted the eight MLAs into his ministry and gave them positions of great responsibility – ministers, parliamentary secretaries, and deputy speakers.
A joint Opposition-less approach
To reach a solution on the Nagaland issue, the House of Representatives’ Core Committee had earlier resolved to try a joint united approach. The NPF legislature party has also endorsed the concept of an opposition-less government to resolve the Naga problem. NPF announced on August 11 and 13 that all political parties wished to appeal to all Naga political groups for unity and reconciliation and to ask the Indian government for an amicable and early solution. There was also unity in the assembly on this front from parties of all shades. A parliamentary committee for Nagaland was constituted on June 11 to include MLAs and MPs as well – its first meeting occurred in July 2016 in Dimapur.
CM Rio met Home Minister Amit Shah in Delhi on July 24 and requested that the government step in to solve the Nagaland issue. The idea of an opposition-free government was probably discussed at this meeting. The BJP was initially wary of the UDA idea as it feared being seen as a junior partner. As per sources, Shah asked all parties to cooperate to facilitate the peace process with elections due in 2023. Taking such a stance would benefit all parties so that the public would see them as serious about solving the problem.
Allocation of portfolios will be discussed under the new UDA, although it is not an immediate priority. Legislators said the ‘first step’ has been cleared and all parties are on board with the committee to resolve the Naga problem. NSCN (I-M) chief Th Muiva is expected to speak with Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, the convenor of the Northeast Democratic Alliance, in Dimapur on 21 September. On 3 August 2015, Prime Minister Modi and the NSCN signed the Naga peace accord to end the six-decade-old insurgency in Nagaland.