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Regional parties of North-East form a front

New Delhi, Oct 23 (): Regional parties numbering ten in the north-east states have come under one umbrella called the North-East Regional Political Front (NERPF). This front will be equidistant from Congress and BJP.

The aim of the Front is to protect the identities of local tribes and people of the region as well as to work together in protecting territorial, social, cultural, political and economic rights of the people of the region.

The move was taken by the regional party Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) and the Front-elected Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio as the convener and ex- Assam Chief Minister. AGP president Prafulla Kumar Mahanta is the Front’s chief adviser. The member parties have four representatives each in the NERPF. The permanent office of NERPF would be in Guwahati. The first meeting of the NERPF will be held in Kohima and will hold a rally in January in Guwahati.

The meeting passed 17 resolutions, which includes a resolution seeking a fresh look into the Centre-State relations in a federal set up. Other resolutions are needed for a comprehensive amendment of the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution with the transfer of powers to States in every matter, except those dealing with defence, external relations, overseas trade and currency. The NERPF wanted the Centre to scrap the concurrent list and bring all the subjects in it to the State list.

The Front expressed concern over repeated incursion by China into Arunachal Pradesh territory and the NERPF asked the Centre to take up the issue with China and prevent any future intrusions.

The regional parties expressed serious concern at the move by the Government of China to build massive dams in the upper reaches of the Brahmaputra to divert the river. It noted that Brahmaputra which is the lifeline of the NE region should not be tampered with and any effort to interfere with the natural flow of the river should be treated as an act of aggression.

The regional parties condemned the lack of seriousness by the Government of India and asked the Government to take the strongest possible steps to prevent the designs of the Chinese government against the region. The Front wanted the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act not to be implemented in any form in the region and form a treaty to send back infiltrators from Bangladesh and cancel the exchange of land.

Jobs in Central, State and the public sector should be reserved for people from NE region. It wanted a separate policy for North-East and Stilwell road to be restored.

The 10 regional parties, which took part in the Front meeting, were the Naga Peoples’ Front which is in power in Nagaland and followed by Asom Gana Parishad, the United Democratic Party and the Hill State People’s Democratic Party of Meghalaya, Manipur People’s Party, Manipur State Congress Party, Manipur Democratic People’s Front, Mizo National Front, People’s Party of Arunachal and the Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura (IPFT).

PA Sangma who floated the Nationalist Congress Party was not invited. NE region accounts for 25 seats and this could prove crucial if a hung parliament happens.