Neiphiu Rio is a Lok Sabha member from Nagaland and has served three terms as Nagaland’s chief minister and poised to assume office as Nagaland’s CM for the fourth term. National Democratic Progressive Party headed by Rio bagged 17 seats in the 2018 elections. Its ally BJP won 12 seats in the 60 member house. Putting an end to the neck-and-neck competition with NPF which had bagged 27 seats, the NDDP+BJP alliance is all set to form the government a JDU MLA and an independent.
Born in 1950 to Late Guolhoulie Rio in the Tuophema village in Kohima district, Rio belongs to the Angami Naga tribe. He studied at the Baptist English School in Kohima and then subsequently completed his education at Sainik School in Purulia, St Joseph’s College in Darjeeling and finally Kohima Arts College.
Rio made his foray into politics at a young age. He was the president of Kohima District United Democratic Front Youth Wing in 1974, chairman of the Northern Angami Area Council in 1984 and also an honorary vice president of the Indian Red Cross Society in Nagaland. He was re-elected from his constituency in 1993. During his tenure with the Indian National Congress, he was Home Minister of the state from 1998-2002. He resigned on a claim that then CM SC Jamir blocked a negotiated settlement of the Naga issue.
He then joined the Naga People’s Front (NPF), the party which joined hands with other Naga political outfits and the BJP to form the Democratic Alliance of Nagaland (DAN). The coalition ended the Congress’ 10-year rule in Nagaland. Rio was made Nagaland’s CM in 2003.
Before he could complete his first term, he was dismissed from his position as President’s rule was imposed in the state in 2008. In the ensuing elections, though, his party was the single largest party with Rio heading DAN. He formed the government in 2008 and his NPF won a big mandate in 2013, paving way for Rio’s third term in office.
He was also awarded the Mother Teresa Millennium award for outstanding leadership and contribution to politics in 2017. In 2018, Rio joined the National Democratic Progressive Party after the NPF snapped ties with the BJP.