Walkie-talkies in hand, a bunch of young men are guarding the occupants of the fortress. Their brief is to prevent any unauthorised entry or exit. More importantly none of the valued occupants of the fortress should be let out of sight. Hotel Vivor, which in Angami Naga dialect means ‘welcome’, is hosting about 30 NDPP legislators, but it has been anything but welcoming the last two weeks. It’s a similar scene, though a lot subdued, at De Oriental Grand which is housing NPF MLAs. While Hotel Vivor is a property of the Niathu Group owned by Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio’s son, De Oriental Grand is owned by the son of NPF president and former chief minister Dr Shurhouzelie.
The People’s Democratic Alliance (PDA), drummed up by Neiphiu Rio with BJP and four other MLAs, has taken over power with 34 elected members in the 60-member Nagaland Legislative Assembly. But fears of changing power equations is keeping the newly elected legislators away from the comfort of their homes.
Kohima Town MLA and former minister Dr. Neikiesalie Kire is reportedly in charge of ‘Camp Vivor’ and none leaves the premises of the luxury hotel without informing him. On two Sundays since the results were declared, church services have been held at the hotel. Some elderly and ailing MLAs have the luxury of getting food from home.
The fractured verdict and BJP’s unprecedented performance in Nagaland state assembly elections saw a tussle between Rio-led Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP) and TR Zeliang-led Naga People’s Front for formation of government. Rio managed to get BJP on his side and staked claim with 32 MLAs. The Nagaland unit of Conrad Sangma’s Nationalist People’s Party (NPP), which had been backing TR Zeliang, on Thursday finally crossed over to the ruling alliance after much indecision. PDA partners NDPP won on 18 seats, BJP-12, NPP-2 and JD(U)-1. NPF had emerged the single largest party with 26 seats.
Even the loyalty of the BJP is in doubt. Some BJP MLAs are reportedly unhappy with the allocation of cabinet berths, as there were some last minute changes to the list of six BJP slated to become ministers. Now, with Ram Madhav back in town, it seems Rio is under pressure to give the ally plum cabinet berths.
Former Nagaland BJP president and core group member Dr M. Chuba on Sunday told indianexpress.com that the portfolio allocation has “been finalised on BJP’s end, the rest depends on NDPP”. “They would like to announce the portfolios before the first assembly session.” While refusing to disclose the portfolios set aside for the BJP ministers, Chuba said “one should not complain about big or small departments, as every department is important.” The BJP, however, clarified that the Speaker will be from the NDPP.
The first session of the 13th NLA has been summoned on March 13, where Rio will face the floor test to prove majority. Till then, the chief minister has to ensure that he can maintain the slim lead over NPF.