GUWAHATI:Taking cue from Madhya Pradesh government that gave Minister of State status to five religious leaders, the Nagaland government has inducted 13 functionaries of political parties into the ruling People’s Democratic Alliance (PDA) in different capacities with either Cabinet Minister or MoS status.
The appointments assume significance as the date for the bypoll to the state’s lone Lok Sabha seat has been announced. It will be held on May 28.
The seat fell vacant after sitting member Neiphiu Rio became Chief Minister in March. The 13 politicians, who virtually became Ministers overnight, belong to PDA constituents BJP, Nagaland Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP), PA Sangma-founded National People’s Party (NPP) and JD(U). Earlier, the government appointed several MLAs as advisers, some with Cabinet status.
The PDA’s decision has ruffled many feathers. The state’s apex social organisation, Naga Hoho, and the Congress and Naga People’s Front (NPF) have been critical of the government for burdening the state exchequer with “illegal appointments”.
“Maybe there is a compulsion, so the government made the appointments to fulfill the interests of alliance partners. But what is the benefit of according MoS status to non-elected politicians? This is going to directly affect the state exchequer and, ultimately, the public will be victims,” Naga Hoho president Chuba Ozukum said.
The Congress said the appointments were in gross violation of the model code of conduct. “Truly change has come, more VVIPs sans nameplates. Incredible Nagaland where anything and everything is possible,” NPCC chief G K Zhimomi tweeted. The NPF said the appointments spoke little about the government’s commitment to shun VIP culture.
“The PDA government had stated it would do away with VIP culture. Then why are they creating more VIP posts for their party rank and file? They say one thing but do another,” NPF leader Sebastian Zumvu said.
He added: “They are saying that they will bring change. The previous (NPF) government had sanctioned crores of rupees to repair roads across Nagaland but once they came to power, they diverted the funds to other areas where the Chief Minister has his interests. And for this a case has been filed with the Kohima Bench of Gauhati High Court. Their slogan of change is a clear joke on the Nagas. The change that they are bringing is for the betterment of their party functionaries and their close kith and kin.”
To do away with VIP culture, the PDA government asked its ministers last month to “abstain” from attending public functions as chief guests, from making donations, announcing monetary grants and accepting gifts at public events.