Kohima, March 1: The overwhelming majority of the Nagaland Peoples Front has left Neiphiu Rio, the jubilant likely chief minister-on-a-hattrick, with the difficult task of having too many MLAs to please.
His party, the NPF, now has 38 MLAs and with an MLA each from the BJP and JD (U), who together form the Democratic Alliance of Nagaland, there are 40 contenders for the 11 cabinet berths, excluding that of the chief minister’s.
Rio has assured the allies of their inclusion in the government. The other possible lesser claimants would be the several first-time MLAs, who could be kept happy with posts of parliamentary secretaries and chairpersons of some less budgeted departments and corporations.
The tightrope walk would, however, be to keep the pre-poll promises he had made to his colleagues.
Civil society organisations and the NPF’s Dimapur unit have demanded a cabinet berth for the commercial hub.
The two NPF candidates elected from Dimapur this time, Tovihoto Ayemi from Dimapur-I and Zhaleo Rio from Ghaspani-II, are, however, both first-time MLAs. Moreover, inducting Zhaleo in the cabinet is likely to invite criticism.
Speaker for two tenures, Kiyanilie Peseyie from Western Angami constituency in Kohima, was assured of a cabinet berth by Rio and is expecting the urban development portfolio.
The fact that some of the cabinet ministers of the previous government failed to make it this time, comes as a breather for the NPF leader with a problem of plenty.
Outgoing power minister Doshehe Y. Sema, school education minister Nyiewang Konyak, minister for forest and environment M.C. Konyak and minister for agriculture Chumben Murry are now out of the contest.
The heavyweight contenders for the next cabinet are roads and bridges minister G. Kaito Aye from Zunheboto district, Speaker Kiyanilie Peseyie from Kohima, parliamentary secretary Y. Patton from Wokha, home minister Imkong L. Imchen from Mokokchung, planning minister T.R. Zeliang from Peren and parliamentary secretary S. Pangyu from Longleng.
For Mon, parliamentary secretary Naiba Konyak has won for the third term as an NPF candidate from Tobu constituency, but there is also a veteran NPF man, Noke, who has made a comeback this time from Mon town.
Minister for health and family welfare Kuzholuzo Nienu and parliamentary secretary Yitachu have come back from Phek district for the third time, but the former is likely to be inducted into the cabinet and offered a parliamentary secretary position.
Minister for soil and water conservation P. Longon has a good chance of finding a place in the cabinet while Kejong Chang, Lok Sabha MP, C.M. Chang and parliamentary secretary, R. Tohonba are likely to get parliamentary secretary positions. Rio could possibly have over a dozen parliamentary secretaries.
For the post of Speaker, the name that is being floated is of the chairman of the music task force and Khadi and Village Industries board Nicky Kire from Kohima.
The deputy speaker’s position is expected to go to someone from another district.
But if Rio wants to induct his brother in the cabinet, he might part with the post of Speaker to another district.
Rio today convened a closed-door meeting with his elected MLAs to take stock of the post-poll scenario.