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Sangma asked to revive NEPF
Correspondent SHILLONG, SEPT 25:
Published on 26 Sep. 2008 12:00 AM IST
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As his return to Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) is almost certain, former Assam Chief Minister, Prafulla Kumar Mahanta today asked former Lok Sabha Speaker Purno A Sangma to rejuvenate the North-East People’s Forum (NEPF). Mahanta, who rushed to Meghalaya today impressed Sangma on the need of regional parties in the eight north-eastern States, including Sikkim to fight the up coming Lok Sabha polls under one political platform. NEPF, a conglomeration of 17 political parties including the BJP and breakaway NCP and regional parties from North-East was formed in 2003 to address chronic problems of the region including insurgency and illegal immigration. “I have requested Sangma to take the initiative to talk to leaders of the regional parties in the region on the proposal,” the former Assam Chief Minister told reporters after discussing with the former Lok Sabha Speaker on various issues concerning the region. In the last Lok Sabha elections, the AGP had rejected the offer made by the NEPF convenor and Nagaland Chief Minister, Neiphiu Rio due to Forum’s association with the Bharatiya Janata Party. In Meghalaya, too, the United Democratic Party had refused Sangma’s offer. Sangma, the architect of NEPF, however, this time made it clear that the Forum will not have any pre-poll alliance with the ruling Congress-led United Progressive Alliance or BJP-led National Democratic Alliance. “The forum has nothing do with political alliance at the Centre, but to fight the upcoming crucial Lok Sabha elections together to oust the Congress,” the Nationalist Congress Party general secretary said. Stating that the forthcoming parliamentary poll was crucial for the country, Sangma said, “in the last confidence motion of Manmohan Singh, if five JMM MPs from Jharkhand could turn the events in favour of the UPA why not 24 MPs from North Eastern states fight the election under one political platform.” Meanwhile, non-Congress Chief Ministers of the North Eastern states, including top regional party leaders are expected to meet at Shillong to revive the NEPF which has been lying low after the 2004 Lok Sabha elections.

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