Nagaland chief minister TR Zeliang, whose government was in doldrums with a section of legislators from the ruling Naga People’s Front (NPF) indulging in dissidence and demanding his removal, on Thursday won a trial of strength in the state assembly with the entire House voting in his favour. All 59 members of the 60-member House, including the eight Congress MLAs too, voted in Zeliang’s favour in the special emergent one-day session of the state assembly in Kohima.
“The truth has prevailed,” Zeliang said immediately after the proceedings ended in his favour. The motion moved by chief minister was put to vote by voting slip after a brief discussion on it. This technically brings the curtains down on the month-long instability, but sources in Kohima said a section of NPF legislators were still bent on pulling down Zeliang in the days to come.
Zeliang said that outcome of voting in the special assembly session had exposed the hollowness of claims of those who sought to dismiss his government. Addressing the media later in the afternoon he said, “The vote of confidence in the House must be construed not just as a vote of confidence in the government, but also as a resounding call amongst the legislators, across party line.”
He also said that the proceeding in the House clearly proved that the objective set by his government had the unanimous support of all legislators cutting across party lines. Zeliang also alleged that some leaders of the NPF had misguided some MLAs and hijacked them, for which the political uncertainty was caused. “The voting has proved the senseless and baseless blitz of propaganda of the dissident members,” he added.
Appealling to the ‘misguided’ MLAs to return to the fold, Zeliang said only then would the government be able to work collectively for a solution of Naga political issue. When asked why the Congress MLAs also voted hi his favour, the chief minister said it was for better development of the state.
Zeliang also thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP – apart from members of the state assembly – for their stand taken to ensure political stability in the hill state. The dissidence was allegedly backed by former chief minister Neiphiu Rio, with Zeliang making this charge when rebellion first surfaced earlier last month.
The ruling NPF has 38 members, with the opposition Congress having eight. The BJP (8), NCP (1), JD-U (1) are also part of the Democratic Alliance of Nagaland (DAN). The eight Independents are also with the ruling party. The dissidents had projected industry minister G Kaito Aye as their leader instead of Zeliang, after accusing the latter of failing to provide a strong leadership. Several ministers of the Zeliang cabinet had either resigned or were dropped in the past five weeks for their involvement in dissident activities.
Earlier last week, the dissidents received a snub from the Election Commission after they had approached it claiming to be the “original” NPF. While both factions went to the Commission, the latter refused to give any interim order recognizing any of them. It instead fixed February 16 as the last date for rival factions to submit their respective submissions and supporting documents.