Former Nagaland chief minister Shurhozelie Liezietsu won the Northern Angami-1 byelection on Thursday by a margin of 3,468 votes but the victory hardly has any significance.
In a straight contest, Liezietsu polled 8,026 votes against the 4,558 taken by his Independent rival Kekhrie Yhome, an academician.
This is Liezietsu’s ninth victory in Nagaland Assembly elections. He has tasted defeat only once, in 1989.
Liezietsu contested the byelection so he could continue as CM but the purpose was lost ahead of the fight. Last month, MLAs of his Naga People’s Front (NPF) rose in rebellion against him and he was dismissed by governor P B Acharya. Rebel NPF leader TR Zeliang was installed in his stead.
The byelection was necessitated after Liezietsu’s son, Khriehu, resigned in May to facilitate his father’s election to the Assembly. Shurhozelie Liezietsu had become CM back in February after Zeliang was forced to resign in the wake of widespread protests by tribal organisations against the government’s decision to conduct civic elections with 33 per cent reservation for women.
The public perception in Nagaland is that Shurhozelie Liezietsu has won a meaningless election, but there was a residual prestige left in the contest, as for the handful of NPF MLAs left with him it was a prestigious contest because the “Zeliang group did all that it could to ensure his defeat”.
The ageing Liezietsu is unlikely to contest next year’s elections. He is expected to pass on the baton to his son Khriehu.