New Delhi: In a major political development, 21 MLAs of the Naga People's Front on Friday joined the Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party of Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio.

NDPP spokesperson Merentoshi R Jamir said that after these legislators of the NPF, which had 25 legislators earlier, switched sides, the party now has 42 MLAs in the 60-member assembly.

While the NPF is left with four MLAs, the BJP has 12 while there are two Independent members.

Assembly speaker Sharingain Longkumer accepted the decision of the 21 NPF legislators to change party.

The development occurred ahead of the Assembly elections due next year and two days after NPF president Shurhozelie Liezietsu told reporters that the party would contest the polls on its own.

Chief Minister Rio and state Bharatiya Janata Party president Temjen Imna Along have said that they would continue with the alliance and contest the elections with the 2018 seat sharing formula of 40-20. The NPF had joined the ruling People's Democratic Alliance comprising the NDPP and the BJP in August last year to form the United Democratic Alliance, an opposition-less government in the state with the object of pushing the Naga political issue forward.

Minister and government spokesperson Neiba Kronu said that despite the fresh development, the UDA will continue to function. "As political leaders, it is up to the legislators to join another party," he said, adding that the four remaining NPF legislators continue to be in the UDA.

The BJP knew about the development, according to the NDPP spokesperson. There is a need for a strong regional and a national party to work together, Kronu asserted.

—PTI



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