Kohima, Feb 28 (IANS) The Nagaland People's Front (NPF) Thursday swept back to power in the northeastern hill state for its third consecutive term, winning 37 seats in the 60-member assembly.
The NPF, the main constituent of the Democratic Alliance of Nagaland (DAN), saw its tally go up by 11 from the 26 won in the 2008 polls, while coalition partners Bharatiya Janata Party and Janata Dal-United won a seat each, election officials here said.
Congress. the main opposition party, won only eight seats, falling almost two-thirds from its tally of 23 in the outgoing assembly.
The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) increased its tally by securing four seats, up from the two it won in 2008. Besides, there are eight Independents who also made it to the assembly this time.
A total of 188 candidates were in the fray.
Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio won the Northern Angami II seat by defeating his nearest Congress rival Kevise Sogotsu by 12,671 votes, which is also the highest margin this time in Nagaland.
"People have voted us to power once again as they are convinced that the DAN government has brought peace and development to the state. I thank people of Nagaland for reposing their faith in our government," NPF general secretary Kru Zakie told IANS.
Rio was, however, not available for comments.
Senior Congress leader and former chief minister S.C. Jamir attributed his party's debacle to "money power" of the NPF.
"It is very sad but the NPF has spoilt the Nagas totally. There is no point having a public meeting in Nagaland these days. Anybody can be bought by money. NPF pumped in huge money to win the elections. The NPF can afford to spend money as they have accumulated a huge sum during the last ten years," said Jamir.
While the NPF had a pre-poll alliance with the BJP and JD-U, the Congress had hoped to woo like-minded parties and Independents to make it to power this time.
In 2008, the NPF secured 26 seats and the Congress 23. The BJP and NCP won two seats each. Seven Independents also won in 2008.