Three days after former chief minister TR Zeliang claimed majority support and staked claim to form a new government, Nagaland governor PB Acharya on Tuesday asked chief minister Shurhozelie Liezietsu to prove his strength by obtaining a vote of confidence on the floor of the state assembly on or before July 15.
Governor Acharya issued this directive following the claim submitted by former chief minister Zeliang to form a new government by stating that he commanded support of 41 MLAs in the 60-member House that presently has an effective strength of 59, a press release issued from the Kohima Raj Bhavan said.
Meanwhile, Zeliang’s supporters have welcomed the governor’s directive, looking forward for his defeat. We welcome the governor’s decision. Shurhozelie, who has been clinging to office despite losing the trust of majority of the NPF legislators, will have to resign even before taking the floor test,” a legislator from the camp who did not want to be identified, said.
The governor’s directive also came two days after former chief minister Zeliang met him Guwahati and submitted a list of 41 MLAs out of 59 who were with him. Zeliang and his supporters have been accusing chief minister Shurhozelie of functioning in an undemocratic manner.
“Shurhozelie has massacred the very fabric of a democratic institution by forcefully clinging to the CM’s chair with the support of just 10 MLAs. He is not an elected member of the House. Yet the members of the present House graciously made him the chief minister for a period of six months only. But during this short period his true colours of power-mongering and nepotism has been completely exposed,” a statement signed by 41 MLAs including former chief minister Zeliang had said on Monday.
The 41 MLAs demanding Shurhozelie’s resignation and appointment of Zeliang in his place, also accused the chief minister of using his powers as president of the ruling NPF and resorting to “all undemocratic and inconceivable methods of a dictator” bys suspending MLAs and ministers who are elected representatives of the people.
Zeliang, who had taken over as chief minister quite unexpectedly after Neiphiu Rio was elected to the Lok Sabha in 2014, was compelled to resign in February this year following a major unrest that had gripped the state opposing 33 per cent reservation for women in the state’s municipal bodies. While Lok Sabha member Rio had reportedly tried to install one of his loyalists as chief minister, Zeliang managed to install Naga People’s Front (NPF) president Shurhozelie – who was opposed to Rio – in the post. Zeliang was in turn made chairman of the Democratic Alliance of Nagaland (DAN) which comprised of 47 NPF legislators, four BJP and eight Independent MLAs, as also an advisor to the chief minister.
The two however soon fell out with each other, especially after Shurhozelie appointed his son Khriehu Liezietsu as his advisor alongside Zeliang in June, with the latter’s supporters describing it as one of several acts of nepotism and undemocratic attitude of the chief minister.
Meanwhile, chief minister Shurhozelie has expressed hope that the MLAs currently camping in Kaziranga in support of Zeliang would return to his fold soon. “The present political crisis is a family issue (of the NPF) and we will try to solve the problem with mutual understanding among ourselves,” Shurhozelie said in Kohima after filing his nomination papers for the July 29 by-election to the North Angami-I assembly constituency.
Shurhozelie, who was not a legislator when he was appointed chief minister in February 2017, is contesting from the constituency which was vacated by NPF legislator Khriehu Liezietsu, who also happens to be his son. The chief minister also expressed confidence that he would sail through the floor test on July 15.