Nagaland Political crisis: ‘Game of Thrones’ returns as Zeliang v/s Liezietsu yet again!
July 9, 2017: The political drama in Nagaland does not seem to end as after the hasty removal of former Chief Minister TR Zeliang after a heated controversy and revolt, the present CM's chair has yet again invited agitation from the citizens.
Four months after TR Zeliang was forced to step down as chief minister, his successor Shurhozelie Liezietsu is facing rebellion from the very party MLAs who made him come out of retirement from electoral politics and take the hot chair.
Yet again, Nagaland legislators is playing a game they know best – throwing tantrum and camping in Kaziranga for another power struggle.
Despite a resounding mandate to govern the State in 2013, the current Naga People's Front (NPF) led Democratic Alliance of Nagaland (DAN) has been riddled with several major political upheavals, mostly engineered internally, from within the Party.
On July 7, 5 months 15 days since the current Chief Minister and NPF supremo Dr Shürhozelie Liezietsu took over the reins of the affairs, the State is staring at another political spectacle.
In a run-up to the 10 Northern Angami-I constituency bye-poll on July 29, MLAs have grouped themselves into different camps in what is set to be a replay of what happened in 2014, 2015 and 2017.
The faction ridden NPF party faced a new crisis that directly challenges the incumbent Chief Minister. A majority of NPF legislators left his camp and reportedly traveled to their favorite haunting place Kaziranga for another version of 'Games of Thrones' in Nagaland political arena.
A staffer of the resort Borgos in Kaziranga told The New Indian Express, on July 8, that, 'Some 30 ministers and MLAs checked' in at around 3AM on Saturday along with others and "booked around 30 rooms."
As per reports that emerged on July 7, the MLAs are grouped into 3 camps – one under ex-CM TR Zeliang, another under former CM and present Lok Sabha MP Neiphiu and a third under incumbent CM Dr. Liezietsü. The NPF has 47 MLAs in the Assembly.
The arrival of National Democratic Alliance (NDA) Presidential nominee Ram Nath Kovind to Nagaland on July 8 and a subsequent meeting of the DAN legislators in Dimapur preceded the events that followed the crisis.
Engendering a crisis and subsequent hopping of affinities seem to have become a clear calculated political gamble in Nagaland.
The latest upheaval, however, was reportedly engineered by present DAN Chairman and former Chief Minister TR Zeliang. His strange bedfellow – Neiphiu Rio, the lone Member of Parliament (Lok Sabha) from Nagaland is providing ample company this time around. The group is reportedly projecting TR Zeliang as their leader.
Among them, there are reportedly 45 legislators, while Dr Liezitsu has 12 members.
The three legislators from Bharatiya Janata Party is said to be maintaining a neutral stand. This equation tips the scale in favour of the Rio-Zeliang camp.
While the Zeliang camp is reported to have BJP MLAs, sources quoting an aide to one of the BJP MLAs denied the report.
However, a late night input from Kaziranga said that 3 BJP MLA along with 7 Independent left for the resort around 7 PM further reducing Dr. Shürhozelie's strength, with only 8 Cabinets including a BJP Minister in DAN Coalition and a Parliamentary Secretary.
The 'bone of contention' is the change in leadership, the sources added.
Efforts to reach out to the MLAs came to naught as their contact numbers remained either "unreachable" or "switched off."
Earlier today, at the sideline of a programme, Rajya Sabha MP and the general secretary of the NPF, KG Kenye denied the "camping" report. "We'll know in a few hours," he added when reminded that the Chief Minister will be issuing a press statement later in the day in this regard.
This is the fourth instance that the current DAN coalition have faced power struggle by shifting of loyalties and jostling for the CM's chair. The first instance was in 2014 when the then CM Neiphiu Rio resigned and successfully contested the Lok Sabha polls. The second spectacle occurred in early 2015, when Zeliang and Dr. Shürhozelie banded together to fend off a stiff challenge from dissident MLAs under the banner of MP Rio.
In the third, Dr Shürhozelie was sworn in as the 17th Chief Minister of Nagaland on February 22 after a huge political drama, right after the state witnessed widespread chaos and violence, over election to Urban Local Bodies (ULBs).
Cracking its whip last year, the NPF had suspended Rio from the primary and active membership of the party for alleged "anti-party activities" on May 17. Former Home Minister of the State, Imkong L Imchen, was suspended in April under similar circumstances but rejoined in February 2017.
TNT News with inputs from Morung Express and New Indian Express