Nagaland appeared headed for a fresh bout of political crisis with majority of the ruling Naga People’s Front legislators gunning for the ouster of Chief Minister Shurhozelie Liezietsu and return of his predecessor TR Zeliang, who quit four months ago.
Zeliang, on Saturday wrote to Governor PB Acharya saying that he has the support of 41 legislators and staked claimed to form the new government.
“The legislators also urged the present Chief Minister Shurhozelie Liezietsu, who is a non-legislator, to resign and pave way for me (Zeliang) to take over as the Chief Minister,” he said in his letter.
Claiming support of 34 (including himself) out of the 47 NPF legislators, he also told Acharya that seven Independent legislators have also affirmed their support in his favour.
In the letter, Zeliang said that the legislators wanted him to continue as leader of NPF legislature party and also authorised him to stake claim top form a new NPF-led Democratic Alliance of Nagaland government.
Zeliang, who is camping with his party legislators and Independent legislators at a resort in Assam’s Kaziranga National Park, meanwhile resigned as the Advisor (Finance).The Nagaland government had issued a notification terminating his appointment to the post.
The rebellion within the legislature party erupted accusing Liezietsu of indulging in “nepotism” by appointing his son Khriehu Liezietsu as his advisor with cabinet status and pay.
Khriehu had resigned from his Northern Angami-I assembly seat last month to enable his father to contest and become an elected assembly member in order to continue as Chief Minister.
Liezietsu however voiced confidence that the crisis within the NPF would be resolved at the earliest.
Liezietsu, who is also the NPF president, was sworn in as Chief Minister on February 22 this year after Zeliang resigned following violent protest by tribal groups who were opposed to his move to hold civic polls with 33% reservation for women.
The fresh political instability has come at a time when Liezietsu is gearing up for the July 29 by-election from the Northern Angami-I assembly constituency.
In an e-mailed statement, the Chief Minister said that he was deeply pained by the recent disturbing developments affecting the normal functioning of the government.
“The current issue is within the NPF party and will be resolved at the earliest to bring about normalcy in the state. The mandate of the people will be respected and the present crisis will be resolved in the larger interest of the people of the state,” he said.
In the truncated 59-member assembly, the ruling coalition comprises 47 NPF legislators, four Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) members and eight Independents.
Interestingly, Zeliang had even warmed up with his once bitter rival Neiphiu Rio, a three-time Chief Minister and currently the lone Lok Sabha member from Nagaland, but suspended a couple of years back for “anti-party activities”, particularly against Zeliang.