Assuring that the Centre is working towards finding an honourable settlement to the vexed Naga issue, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday appealed to the state electorate to vote the BJP and ally NDPP to power for political stability in the hill state and its development.
"We are working to end the political problems in Nagaland. I believe we'll be able to hammer out a political solution to the Naga problem within the next few months, which will be honourable and well-deserving for the people of Nagaland," he said at a public rally in remote Tuensang district.
The Prime Minister said the Centre had kept the door open for talks with anyone for finding a lasting solution to the Naga issues.
"We have kept open the option for talks with everyone. We are ready to talk to civil society and other groups at any time. We are ready to talk with the Eastern Nagaland Peoples' Organisation also. I admit that the ENPO area is very backward. We are also going to consider special packages and schemes for the development of ENPO area," Modi assured.
On August 3, 2015, the Centre and the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (Issac-Muivah) had signed a Framework Agreement to end the seven-decade-old insurgency. Last year, the government had signed an agreement with a Working Committee of six Naga national political groups.
In January, the Core Committee of Nagaland Tribal Hohos and Civil Organisations had urged the Election Commission to defer the Assembly elections till a solution to the protracted Naga insurgency was found.
Eleven political parties in Nagaland had also decided not to issue tickets or file nominations to press for an early solution to the seven-decade-old insurgency.
Modi said the National Democratic Alliance government is giving special priority to the northeast and making efforts to enhance prosperity in the region. "Our government is committed to ensure all-round development of the northeastern states", he said.
Beginning his speech by saluting the Naga people in the Nagamese language, Modi said if the Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP) and BJP alliance came to power in Nagaland after the February 27 elections, development will reach the grass roots in the state.
"People of Nagaland have been striving for peace and stability. The development of Nagaland will gain speed only when we all move together. We must now go beyond political instability, which has been in the state for the last several years. Swearing in of four Cabinets in four years is a drag on development," the Prime Minister said, emphasising the need for a strong and stable government in Nagaland to work for its development.
"My vision for the northeast is transformation by transportation, and in less than four years, we have added 500 km of national highways and plan to invest more than Rs 10,000 crore in the roads of Nagaland, he added.
"We would ensure that the funds released for your state reach you. With the help of technology, we will plug the loopholes which are causing wastage of public money", he said.
Informing that the central government has approved the construction of 8,500 houses in Nagaland, Modi said that for the construction of new houses and completion of old schemes for houses, we have decided to provide Rs. 160 crore to Nagaland.
"Under National Health Mission, Nagaland has been provided Rs 400 crore and the government will spend around Rs. 1800 crore for making Nagaland's capital Kohima a Smart City," he promised.
The Prime Minister said corruption posed a big challenge.
"It is imperative for development that every penny from the Centre reaches the common man. The then Prime Minister (Rajiv Gandhi) had once said that only 15 paise reaches the common people as against every Re 1 released by the Centre. This must change. Our government is working towards this end and plugging loopholes and leaks."
The Prime Minister said that every resource earmarked for Nagaland's development would be spent on public welfare and there would be no tolerance towards corruption.
"Connectivity in Nagaland is a priority for us. We have ensured development of National Highways in the state. We will invest more money here in future to further strengthen the road network. We are also focusing on increasing rail and air connectivity," Modi said.
He also saluted the culture of the Naga people. "The Constitution of India respects Indian diversity and also calls for living in harmony with all sections of society. The culture of Nagaland is our pride and we will do everything possible to preserve and promote it," he added.
The BJP has fielded 20 candidates and its alliance partner NDPP 40 for the February 27 elections to the 60-member Assembly.