A DAY after Nagaland Chief Minister Shurhozelie Liezietsu dismissed the Raj Bhavan’s directive to seek a trust vote by July 15, Governor P B Acharya said on Thursday that he was “prima facie convinced” that former Chief Minister T R Zeliang enjoys “majority support”. He reiterated that a floor test would have to be held by Saturday. In a letter to Liezietsu on Thursday evening, Acharya said his refusal to prove majority on the floor of the Assembly was “unjustified”, and once again directed him to seek a trust vote. A press release issued by Raj Bhavan said the Chief Minister did not refute Zeliang’s claim that he enjoyed the support of 44 MLAs in a House with an effective strength of 59.
“I have gone through the support letters that Zeliang has submitted to me, and I am prima facie convinced that while Liezietsu has lost support of majority of the members of the House, Zeliang commands the majority support among the 59 legislators who belong to the Democratic Alliance of Nagaland (DAN). Chief Minister Liezietsu must take the floor test by Saturday. If he fails to do so, I will take whatever step the Constitution prescribes,” Acharya, who is currently in New Delhi, told The Indian Express on Thursday night.
“It is not an internal matter of the Naga People’s Front, but it is about DAN. Liezietsu clearly does not have majority with him,” he said.
He also pointed out that though Liezietsu was the chief minister, he was yet to become an elected member. “Liezietsu was just nominated by the DAN legislature party. It is Zeliang who is the actual leader of the House, from among the elected members. Moreover, Zeliang is also the DAN chairman,” said Acharya.
According to a PTI report from Kohima, the Nagaland cabinet, at a meeting on Wednesday night, turned down Acharya’s directive to call an emergency Assembly session by July 15 to seek a trust vote. “The state cabinet was of the firm opinion that there was no justification for an emergency session of the Assembly to discuss or resolve the internal affairs of the ruling NPF,” said a joint statement issued by Liezietsu and Chief Secretary Pankaj Kumar.
The cabinet quoted a Supreme Court judgement, saying that “the Governor can summon or prorogue and dissolve the House, only on the aid and advice of the council of ministers with the Chief Minister as its head, and not on his own.” The cabinet said it was not advisable to hold a floor test because Liezietsu was contesting the North Angami-I Assembly bypoll, which is slated to be held on July 29.
Meanwhile, the 40 NPF and Independent MLAs who have been camping at a resort in Kaziranga National Park could not return to Kohima on Thursday due to the floods. Sources in Kaziranga said the Nagaland legislators were stuck at the resort, as the road leading to it remained under water. They will be evacuated by boats on Friday morning so that they can leave for Kohima, sources said.
In a related development, an emergency meeting of the NPF in Kohima on Thursday evening withdrew the suspension of 10 of its legislators, including Zeliang. NPF working president Apong Pongener said this was done “to bring about true reconciliation” for the sake of the party.
A resolution signed by Pongener said the NPF meeting, held at party president Liezietsu’s residence, also revoked the suspension of Lok Sabha member and former chief minister Neiphiu Rio with immediate effect.