GUWAHATI: It will be a contest between experience and exuberance when former Nagaland chief minister Shurhozelie Liezietsu of the Naga People’s Front (NPF) takes on an independent candidate, Kekhrie Yhome, in Saturday’s by-election to the Northern Angami-1 seat.
The by-election was necessitated following the resignation of Liezietsu’s son Khriehu in May. The octogenarian Liezietsu is a seasoned politician, having served the state as a minister for two terms and as chief minister for five months until getting ‘dismissed’ by governor PB Acharya on July 19 last during the power struggle within NPF.
In contrast, Yhome, 41, is a novice in electoral politics. He is known more as a human rights activist and an academician who is a guest lecturer at the Nagaland University. Both Liezietsu and Yhome hail from the same constituency and belong to the Angami Naga tribe. Liezietsu’s son Khriehu had resigned to pave the way for his unelected father to get elected to be able to continue as the CM. But Liezietsu senior was unseated during the power struggle and TR Zeliang took over as the CM. So, the purpose of Liezietsu fighting the poll is practically lost.
Liezietsu admitted in an interview to The New Indian Express: “I am compelled to face the election.” But, there is no doubt that Khriehu has been a victim of the power struggle. Liezietsu addressed just one rally, which was indicative enough of his lost interest in the election. He had won from the seat in the 2003 and 2008 elections, but did not contest the next election in 2013. He fielded Khriehu from the seat and he successfully contested the poll.
A section of NPF workers claimed that Yhome was being backed by Liezietsu’s adversaries in the NPF. The party virtually has got split into two factions with each one being led by Liezietsu and Zeliang. Liezietsu had taken over as the CM in February this year replacing Zeliang who was forced to resign in the wake of violent protests against him by some tribal organisations over his government’s move to hold civic elections with 33 per cent reservation for women.
Altogether 16,235 voters, including 8,538 females, will exercise their franchise on Saturday.