GUWAHATI: A day after he claimed the support of 34 of the 47 MLAs of the ruling Naga People’s Front (NPF), the former chief minister TR Zeliang left for Delhi on Sunday to meet governor PB Acharya to discuss the formation of a government.
The governor was reportedly in Mumbai and was coming to Delhi for the meeting, which is likely to take place on Monday.
However, prior to checking out of “Borgos”, a resort in Assam’s Kaziranga, where he was camping along with at least 30 NPF MLAs since Saturday morning, Zeliang told the New Indian Express that he was going to Delhi to try and meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union home minister Rajnath Singh.
On Sunday, chief minister Liezietsu dropped four ministers including Y Patton, G Kaito Aye, Imkong L Imchen and C Kipili Sangtam. They were also suspended from the party. Five other MLAs – Shetoyi, Nuklutoshi, Deo Nukhu, Naiba Konyak and Benjongliba Aier – were also suspended. All of them belong to the Zeliang camp.
"They shall, however, be bound by the whip of the NPF on the floor of the Nagaland Legislative Assembly," the NPF said in a statement.
On Saturday evening, he removed Zeliang from the post of advisor (finance). He had also sacked 11 parliamentary secretaries, who were in Zeliang’s camp.
Commenting on the fresh political unrest, he said the “undemocratic” style of functioning of the incumbent chief minister, Shurhozelie Liezietsu, made the NPF MLAs look for an alternative.
“The present chief minister is functioning in an undemocratic manner, both in the government and in the party. As such, the MLAs don't feel secure going to the next year’s (Nagaland) elections under his leadership,” Zeliang said.
“He (Liezietsu) is the chief minister as well as the party president. His son (Khriehu Liezietsu) was recently appointed as his advisor with the status of a Cabinet minister. But they are not elected members. So, the MLAs are not happy over such monopoly. They are neither satisfied nor do they feel secure under his leadership. As such, majority of them are for a change of guard,” Zeliang said.
He claimed that he enjoyed the support of 41 MLAs in the 60-member House, which now has an effective strength of 59, following Khriehu’s resignation. Khriehu resigned to make way for his father who will contest the July 29 by-elections from Northern Angami-1 seat, vacated by his son. Liezietsu, who is an un-elected member of the assembly, has to win the by-election to be able to continue as the chief minister.
With 47 MLAs, the NPF calls the shots in the ruling coailition, Democratic Alliance of Nagaland (DAN) in which the BJP, with four MLAs, is a constituent. The coalition has the support of eight independent MLAs.
“The BJP will go to whichever camp has the majority of NPF MLAs. Out of the eight independent MLAs, seven are with us,” Zeliang claimed.
Although cornered, Liezietsu is trying to put up a brave face. He said it was a crisis within the NPF and would be resolved at the earliest.
Zeliang resigned as Nagaland chief minister in February in the wake of violent protests, staged by tribal organisations, against his decision to allow quotas for women in civic elections. Ironically, it was the same Kaziranga resort where a group of NPF MLAs had in February plotted against his continuance as chief minister.