In a first, Nitish Kumar to campaign for BJP-JD (U) alliance in Nagaland

Bihar Chief inister Nitish Kumar at the swearing-in ceremony of Vice-President Venkaiah Naidu in the Durbar Hall of Rashtrapati Bhawan in New Delhi.
In a first, after the two parties struck an alliance in Bihar in end July, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Nitish Kumar-led Janata Dal(United) are all set contest a state assembly poll together.

The BJP and JD(U) will have a pre-poll alliance for the Nagaland assembly polls. JD(U) sources said Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar will be campaigning for the alliance in Nagaland.

JD(U) had contested 50-odd seats in the Gujarat assembly polls held in December, but didn’t have an alliance with the BJP. Kumar didn’t campaign for his party in Gujarat. The JD (U) had walked out of the 'mahagatbandhan', or the grand alliance, in Bihar on July 26, by severing ties with the Rashtriya Janata Dal and Congress party, and formed a government in alliance with the BJP.

The Election Commission on Thursday announced the poll schedule for Nagaland, Tripura and Meghalaya. The 60-member Nagaland assembly goes to polls on February 27, and the counting of votes is on March 3.

JD(U) national general secretary K C Tyagi was in Nagaland from January 12 to 14 to make an assessment of his party’s chances. He has also had discussions with BJP general secretary Ram Madhav. “Bihar CM Nitish Kumar will be in New Delhi on January 27 and has a meeting scheduled with political leaders from Nagaland,” Tyagi told Business Standard.

The JD(U) had won five seats in 2003, none in 2008 and one seat in the last assembly polls in the state in 2013. The BJP had won one seat in 2013, while the Nagaland People’s Front (NPF) won the majority with 38-seats, the Congress party won 8, Nationalist Congress Party 4 and independents 8.

The shape of the BJP-JD(U) alliance with any of the regional players is unclear. The ruling NPF, led by TR Zeilang, had snapped ties with the BJP last year. It currently has 46-members, while the BJP has 4 and 8 legislators are independents. Two seats are vacant. The NPF has been in power in the state since 2003.

Neiphiu Rio, currently a Lok Sabha member from state, was the state chief minister for 11 of the 15 years that NPF has been in power. Rio is currently negotiating with the BJP, while Zeilang’s NPF is likely to go it alone.

Rio joined the Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP), a regional party, on Wednesday and is its chief ministerial candidate.

 

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