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Rio forms new regional party in Nagaland
Bhadra Gogoi
 DIMAPUR, May 17 - A new regional party led by former Naga People’s Front (NPF) veterans, which is likely to pose a major challenge to the ruling party in the coming general election in Nagaland in early 2018, was formed today.

The new party christened Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) was formed under the initiative of veteran Naga politician and former Lok Sabha MP Chingwang Konyak and sitting Lok Sabha MP and former three-time Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio. Konyak has been elected the founding president of the party. He had recently resigned from the NPF, but the ruling party claimed that he was never its member.

The DPP held its first general body meeting at Chumukedima here today and elected its new office bearers. The party will be formally launched in June after registering with the Election Commission of India.

Rio is expected to concentrate more in eastern Nagaland which has 20 seats in the 60-member Nagaland Assembly. This is the reason why he wanted Konyak who hails from that region to lead his new party.

Before Konyak became a political advisor to Rio in the DAN-II Government when the latter was the Chief Minister, he was the president of Nagaland Pradesh Congress Committee (NPCC) and later joined BJP for a short period before rejoining the Congress.

Some of the senior NPF lawmakers and leaders are reportedly with Konyak and Rio. More are likely to join the bandwagon. “The days of NPF are over,” claimed a source from Rio’s camp.

NPF, the major alliance partner in DAN, supported by BJP and JD (U), came to power in 2003 due to the effort of Rio. The DAN-III received a massive victory but due to over ambitious move by the former Chief Minister Rio, rift and leadership crisis erupted in the party. The party warned Rio that he would be held responsible for any discrepancy in the party in the future.

With the political equation likely to change as the days are not far from another mandate, the NPF is likely to suffer a setback as more of its members are expected to join the new party. “Senior political leaders know where to go and whom to follow,” said a source.

Sources said Rio and Konyak are optimistic of forming the next government, adding that downfall of NPF is imminent. There were reports of Rio hobnobbing with the BJP for possibility of an alliance.

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