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Nagaland: Neiphiu Rio set to be Chief Minister, NPP bats for T R Zeliang

With BJP’s 12 seats, alliance partner Neiphiu Rio’s NDPP bagging 18, the JD(U) promising support of its lone MLA despite a previous alliance with NPF, and support of one Independent candidate, the alliance now has 32 MLAs.

Written by Dipankar Ghose | Raipur | Updated: March 6, 2018 8:34:30 am
Nagaland: BJP breaks 15-year alliance with NPF, set to form govt with NDPP in state BJP’s Himanta Biswa Sarma and NDPP’s Neiphiu Rio in Kohima (Express)

Neiphiu Rio on Monday got closer to staking claim and forming the government in Nagaland after Himanta Biswa Sarma, Assam minister and chairman of the BJP-led North East Democratic Alliance, met him in Kohima to work out contours of the coalition.

This comes after Chief Minister T R Zeliang of the NPF refused to resign on Sunday in the hope that the BJP could still be persuaded to side with the party.

In what is seen as an attempt to build pressure, presidents of NPP and NPF in Manipur, which have four MLAs each and are part of the BJP-led government in Manipur, today released a letter they wrote to Amit Shah on March 4. It stated, “We strongly feel that NPF, BJP, NPP alliance should form the government in Nagaland as already the NPP and NPF are alliance partners of (the) BJP-led government in Manipur. Such a coalition government is likely to be more stable.” The letters were signed by Thangminlien Kipgen of NPP and Awangbow Newmai, president of NPF in Manipur.

Read | Who is Neiphiu Rio?

Governor P B Acharya on Sunday had given both sides 48 hours to give evidence of support they carried, along with signatures of all MLAs. Sources today said Rio will meet the Governor Tuesday morning to hand over the letters of support, and that the swearing-in ceremony is likely on March 8.

With BJP’s 12 seats, alliance partner Rio’s NDPP bagging 18, the JD(U) promising support of its lone MLA despite a previous alliance with NPF, and support of one Independent candidate, the alliance now has 32 MLAs.

The NPF, which was in government with the BJP for 15 years, has 26 seats.

After meeting Rio, Sarma said, “We came to Kohima to meet Neiphiu Rio, who is the leader of NDPP. The BJP has already extended its support to Neiphiu Rio for forming the next government. Today we have discussed the detailed architecture of the government…. We arrived at a final conclusion, which will be announced by Mr Rio in due course of time.”

Read | Meghalaya and Nagaland: Behind fractured verdicts, affinity for local candidates rather than parties

Sarma and Union minister J P Nadda later went to Dimapur, where Y Patton was elected Leader of BJP legislative party in Nagaland Assembly. Patton is likely to be declared deputy CM, sources said.

About the possibility of NPP and NPF pulling out in Manipur, a senior BJP leader said that the coalition in Manipur will not fall even if the two parties pulled out with their eight candidates. “These are only desperate threats. The NPF faction there is close to Zeliang, and we do not believe NPP will ever seriously pull out. They are, after all, allying with us in Meghalaya,” the BJP leader said.

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