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KOHIMA, Feb 16: All is not well for Nagaland chief minister T R Zeliang. He rushed to Delhi Thursday to meet "central leaders" to try and save his chair after 42 of 49 MLAs of his party, the Naga People's Front (NPF), switched support to the party chief Shurhozelie Liezietsu as the next CM.
The Naga People's Front is an ally of the BJP and they both are constituents in the state's ruling alliance.
This development came a day after some tribal organisations asked NPF MLAs to resign by Friday or face a boycott by people in next year's Assembly elections.
The MLAs threw their weight behind Shurhozelie Liezietsu, who is 81 years old, at a meeting held on Wednesday night. Confirming the development, Nagaland's lone Rajya Sabha MP, K G Kenye, said that Shurhozelie Liezietsu had accepted the offer.
"Liezietsu has given his consent to the decision and accepted the offer. Only the transition is awaited," Kenye said.
Asked if the decision was aimed at normalizing the situation in the state, he said: "That is the one and only reason. The only issue confronting all of us now is the public's demand for his (Zeliang's) resignation. So, we thought he has to step down even if it is for some time."
Stating that there is no internal crisis in the NPF, Kenye, however, asserted that Zeliang might make a comeback in the near future. "You cannot rule out his return because these things happen everywhere," he said.
A source in the Nagaland chief minister's office told New Indian Express that Zeliang would meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union home minister Rajnath Singh in Delhi.
The tribal organisations in Nagaland are going for the chief minister's scalp as they are upset with his government's decision to go ahead with urban local body elections with 33 per cent reservation of seats reserved for women.
There have been statewide protests against the reservation with widespread arson in Kohima and Dimapur. The tribal bodies, which have been enforcing an indefinite bandh in the state since Monday, argue that quota will infringe upon Article 371(A) which commits to protect Naga customary laws and rights.
The bandh has thrown life out of gear. The protestors are not allowing government offices to function and government vehicles to ply.
(Source: The New Indian Express)