GUWAHATI: Forty seven MLAs from Nagaland had helped TR Zeliang wrest power from his predecessor Shurhozelie Liezietsu after a fortnight-long power struggle. He returned the favour by virtually appointing all of them as ministers, at least in terms of rank and status.
In the 60-member Nagaland House that now has an effective strength of 59 following the resignation of Liezietsu’s son Khriehu Liezietsu, there can at the most be 12 ministers, including the chief minister.
There are 47 MLAs with Zeliang. Eleven of them have been appointed as Cabinet ministers, eight as advisors with Cabinet rank and status and 26 as parliamentary secretaries with rank and status of a minister of state.
The Speaker enjoys the rank and status of a Cabinet minister. The 47th MLA is the chairman of DAN, who also enjoys the status of a Cabinet minister.
The MLAs include 37 from the Naga People’s Front (NPF), four from the BJP and seven Independents.
The NPF is a major constituent of the DAN. With around nine months left for Nagaland to go to the Assembly elections, Zeliang ostensibly played safe by accommodating each one of them in the government.
Speculations were rife that the lawmakers in the politically-unstable state, if not suitably rewarded, could shift their loyalty to Liezietsu. The Congress slammed the appointments. “It’s very sad. They (MLAs) stand for only personal possessions. The people in the state cannot expect anything from them now. I think there should be some decency and moral responsibility in delivering the goods to the people,” Nagaland Congress chief K Therie told the New Indian Express.
He claimed that “There is a trust deficit among the MLAs. Everyone wants to hold some department to extract some shares. That is the only sign that we can see among them now. They want their pound of flesh. They are not for the people; they are for themselves”.