Monday, Jul 28, 2003
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By Barun Das Gupta
Along with two Opposition MLAs, the Congress(D) also formed the United Democratic Front (UDF) and elected the former Chief Minister, Gegong Apang, as their leader. The breakaway group claimed the support of four more MLAs.
Mr. Apang called on the Governor, V.C. Pandey, this evening and staked claim to form a new government. Till recently, Mr. Apang, of the Arunachal Congress, was the lone Opposition MLA. Some time ago, a Congress legislator, S. Wanglet, was expelled from the party and became an "unattached" member.
Factionalism, simmering within the Congress for a long time, became intense three months ago after the Chief Minister, Mukut Mithi, got the Rural Works Minister, Thingpoing Wangham, and the Congress MLAs, Mr. Wanglet and T.L. Rajkumar, arrested for "having secret links" with the NSCN(I-M) in the Tirap and Changlang districts. Mr. Rajkumar was recently taken back into the Cabinet after he reportedly made up with Mr. Mithi.
Reports reaching here from capital Itanagar said Mr. Mithi was expected to meet the Governor today. The indications are that he will demand a trial of strength on the floor of the Assembly.
Observers said the developments needed to be seen in a wider political context. The ongoing negotiations in Bangkok between the Centre and the NSCN(I-M) leadership have brought the BJP close to the militant outfit.
The first outcome of this camaraderie was the defeat of the ruling Congress, led by the Chief Minister, S.C. Jamir, in the Assembly elections in Nagaland in February. A Democratic Alliance of the Nagaland Government came to power, with Neiphieu Rio as the Chief Minister.
The proposal to create a Union Territory for Nagas, living in contiguous areas outside Nagaland, in lieu of a `Greater Nagaland' also showed the eagerness of the Centre in keeping the NSCN(I-M) in good humour.
With the Lok Sabha elections coming soon, the split in the Congress and the possible loss of power will prove advantageous to the BJP-led NDA at the Centre.
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