Nagaland Chief Minister T.R. Zeliang on Thursday appealed to the agitating tribal groups to give him two-three more days to step down to ensure smooth transition of power, after ruling Naga People’s Front legislators backed party supremo Shurhozelie Liezietsu to take over.
Zeliang’s appeal to the Nagaland Tribal Action Committee (NTAC), which is spearheading the agitation demanding the resignation of the Chief Minister, came after 42 of the 49 NPF legislators “unanimously supported” supremo Liezietsu to take over from Zeliang as the new legislature party leader.
In a letter to NTAC Convenor, K.T. Vilie, Zeliang stated, “In order to ensure smooth transition of office, and in larger interest of the state, I appeal to you to wait for 2-3 more days. Please be re-assured that this appeal is being made the not in my personal interest but in the greater interest of Nagaland and my dear fellow citizens.”
“I am seized of the matter regarding the demands for my stepping down as Chief Minister. You will appreciate that all decisions taken so far have been collectively and likewise all future decision will also have to be taken collectively,” Zeliang stated.
Earlier, Nagaland’s lone Rajya Sabha member K.G. Kenye told IANS: “Majority of the NPF legislators have unanimously elected Shurhozelie as their new legislature party leader to break the deadlock between the agitating groups and the government. We have tried our best to persuade the groups but they refused to climb down.”
“Shurhozelie has accepted the offer of the legislators to lead the NPF-led Democratic Alliance of Nagaland (DAN) government to restore normalcy and prevent the imposition of President’s rule in the state,” Kenye said.
Shurhozelie is also the Chairman of the DAN government. In the 60-member House, the ruling Democratic Alliance of Nagaland coalition government, which comprises of 48 NPF legislators including suspended legislator Imkong Imchen, four Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and eight Independents.
Earlier on Thursday, Governor P.B. Acharya and Zeliang left for New Delhi from Dimapur. Zeliang is expected to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh. Agitating tribal groups — under the banner of NTAC and Joint Coordination Committee (JCC) — have been demanding the resignation of Zeliang over his decision to conduct civic bodies’ elections with 33 per cent reservation for women.
On Wednesday, the group had served the Chief Minister an ultimatum to resign or face further protests. Their three-day ultimatum will end on Friday. The groups have decided to hold a public rally on Friday at Kohima to mount pressure on Zeliang to step down.
“Had the Governor and the Chief Minister not left Kohima (state capital), Shurhozelie along with the legislators would have driven down to Raj Bhavan to stake claim and form the new government,” Kenye said.
He said that both the Chief Minister and the Governor are expected to return to Kohima on Friday to pave way for formation of the new government. “We are sure that there will be smooth transition of power as the Chief Minister himself wants to ensure peace in the state after weeks of agitation,” he added.
Nagaland has been on turmoil since January, after the NPF-led government decided to hold local body elections in 12 towns across the state. The government later declared the civic elections as “null” and “void”. Three persons were killed and many injured following clashes between police and the public, who were opposing the civic polls.
In fact, NPF legislator Neiphrezo Keditsu had resigned as Chairman of Nagaland State Mineral Development Corporation Limited on moral grounds since one of the persons killed in the Dimapur police firing was from his village.