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Retired from polls but very much around

Kohima, Feb. 19: Veteran politician and Naga People’s Front (NPF) president Shurhozelie Liezietsu, who recently announced his retirement from electoral politics, is optimistic about his party coming back to power.

He said NPF, which had the blessings of the Naga people, would retain power with a thumping majority in the 60-member house, while asking party candidates not to be over-confident.

Liezietsu dubbed the Congress as an anti-Naga party that had worked against the wishes of the people.

He said people were happy with the performance of the NPF-led Democratic Alliance of Nagaland (DAN) government, which is why they would give the Congress a befitting reply.

Though he has not cited the reason behind his decision to quit, one reason could be that he has not beenkeeping well for sometime. Another could be to groom his son, Khriehu, who is also the deputy chairperson of the Kohima municipal council. Khriehu is contesting against Congress candidate Praselie Angami from Northern Angami-I. Both contestants are from Kohima village.

Liezietsu, 77, who has been contesting since 1969 from Northern Angami-1, did not contest in 1998 because of an election deferment call given by the Naga organisations.

He is now minister for urban development and higher education and is a devout social and church worker and above all, an intellectual and litterateur. He has authored dozens of books in Tenyidie language. He is also president of Ura Academy since 1970 and a member, school board of humanities and education, Nagaland University, and member, board of post graduate studies in Tenyidie, Nagaland University.

During his tenure as education minister in 1980, Shurhozelie was also involved in several activities, including introduction of new types of school buildings in collaboration with Central Building Research Institute, Roorkee. He ensured construction of more than 700 such buildings. He was also one of the members behind formation of the village development board and initiated construction of the present Nagaland secretariat building.

Liezietsu urged people to remain united, progress and achieve settlement of the Naga political problem. He said the solution would continue to elude people as long as they remained divided.

On integration of contiguous Naga areas, he said his party would continue to pursue the issue till it was achieved.

NPF secretary general K.G. Kenye said Liezietsu was tall figure who had contributed immensely to the well-being of Naga society. He said the party president was a regionalist all throughout his political career and had stood against all odds to uphold the party ideals.

“We will never forget the good deeds our president has done to the people and the party,” Kenye said.

A devout Christian, the NPF president urged party candidates to seek the blessings of God to win the elections. He was also the main person behind drafting the party’s manifesto this time. Chief minister Neiphiu Rio and Shurhozelie are the star campaigners for the party.

Because of his dislike for Nagamese, the NPF president campaigns in Tenyidie, which is then translated into Nagamese. He disapproves use of Nagamese, a combination of Assamese, English, Bengali, Hindi and a few Naga dialects. He wants to promote Tenyidie as a common language for Naga people.

There are 16,386 voters and 21 polling stations in the Northern Angami-I constituency.