Two days after a group of dissidents within the ruling Naga People’s Front (NPF) withdrew support to Nagaland Chief Minister T R Zeliang and projected industries minister G Kaito Aye as their leader, NPF president Shurhozelie Leizeitsu said the dissidents had “hijacked” some MLAs, but Zeliang’s government would survive despite all odds.
“I am sure that Zeliang will continue to remain chief minister despite a section of our legislators trying to dislodge him. Zeliang will survive in the event of the governor calling for a trial of strength,” NPF president Shurhozelie Leizeitsu told The Indian Express over the telephone from Kohima on Thursday.
The NPF chief however alleged that the dissidents had “hijacked” some of the legislators who actually were with chief minister Zeliang. “The dissidents have hijacked some MLAs who are with the chief minister. They want to disturb the government. But I strongly feel nothing will happen to this government,” Leizeitsu claimed.
Chief Minister Zeliang, who along with the NPF chief met Governor P B Acharya on Wednesday, meanwhile has refuted the allegations leveled against him by the dissidents. Zeliang, in a statement in Kohima said it was an “unwarranted political development” created by “some disgruntled elected NPF members.”
“The governor is a just person, and we are sure he will go by the rules according to which the government will survive the present crisis,” NPF president Leizeitsu said.
He however admitted that the dissidents’ camp had “slightly more” members than those on the chief minister’s side, “but they have been forcibly hijacked and kept in confinement,” he claimed. “Once there is a floor test, majority of them would return to the fold because none of them would like to be disqualified from the House,” he added.
While former chief minister and present Lok Sabha member Neiphiu Rio has thrown his weight behind the dissidents, NPF president Shurhozelie Leizeitsu wondered what his (Rio’s) intentions were. “This (dissidence) is Rio’s creation. We don’t understand what his intentions are,” the NPF chief said.
Meanwhile, the dissident group’s spokesman Imkong L Imchen claimed that majority of the 38 NPF legislators were not with Zeliang and that there was no question of going back on what they (dissidents) have decided. “We are in a majority within the NPF legislature party, and want the governor to call for a trial of strength,” Imchen said.
While the dissidents claimed they had 20 of the 38 NPF MLAs on their side, the party president had on Tuesday itself placed under suspension seven MLAs, two of them being ministers and the remainder parliamentary secretaries.
The NPF has a strength of 38 MLAs in a House of 60, with other partners of the Democratic Alliance of Nagaland (DAN) – BJP having four, NCP one, and JD(U) one member. The opposition Congress has eight MLAs while the House also has eight Independent legislators.