Kohima, March 5: Neiphiu Rio was sworn in as the chief minister of Nagaland for the third straight term along with 11 cabinet ministers by Governor Nikhil Kumar at the Raj Bhavan here this morning.
In the evening, Rio inducted a team of 21 parliamentary secretaries and an adviser in the Democratic Alliance of Nagaland-III government.
The Naga Peoples Front (NPF), the main ally in the DAN government, has 38 legislators while its pre-poll allies, BJP and JD(U), have one each. The DAN is also supported by seven Independents and four Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) MLAs.
Rio has inducted seven new faces in his cabinet while he has dropped P. Longon, a senior leader who was the minister for soil and water conservation in the previous ministry. The new faces are former Speaker Kiyanilie Peseyie (PHED), former minister Noke Konyak (social welfare), former parliamentary secretaries P. Pangyu (industries and commerce) and Y. Patton (forest), former Lok Sabha MP C.M. Chang (education), former deputy speaker E.E. Pangteang (tourism, art and culture) and first-timer Merentoshi Jamir (youth resources and sports).
Merentoshi, 32, is the son of chief secretary Alemtemshi Jamir and Nagaland commissioner Banuo Z. Jamir.
The young turk is also the grandson of former Congress minister N.I. Jamir.
He is one of the two persons who have got cabinet berths from Mokokchung district, the other being Imkong L. Imchen, home minister in DAN-II government, who was arrested in the run-up to the Assembly polls for carrying arms and Rs 1.10 crore in cash. Imchen has been allotted the health portfolio in the new cabinet while Kaito Aye has got the home portfolio.
The other two members of the cabinet are Kuzholuzo Nienu (roads and bridges) and T.R. Zeliang (planning).
NPF legislator Nuklutoshi Ao, who was eyeing a cabinet berth, has been inducted as a parliamentary secretary. While he refused to comment on Rio’s offer, he appeared discontented.
Rio said he had inducted Merentoshi into the cabinet to give space to young people, a focal point of his government.
Dimapur’s residents, who was pushing for a cabinet berth for their MLAs, had to settle with two parliamentary secretaries — Rio’s brother Zhaleo Rio and Tovihoto Ayemi, both new entrants.
From Tuensang district, Longon, three-time MLA and minister in DAN-II, was bypassed to make way for first-timer C.M. Chang. Longon’s name has not figured in the list of parliamentary secretaries either.
From Mon district, Naiba Konyak, a three-time MLA and parliamentary secretary in DAN-II, has been allotted the post of adviser in DAN-III to accommodate Noke Konyak, a veteran NPF leader from Mon.
Rio is likely to appoint more advisers.
Another senior NPF leader and former parliamentary secretary for tourism, law and justice, Yitachu from Phek district, who was eyeing a cabinet berth, was inducted as a parliamentary secretary.
Kiphire and Dimapur districts have no cabinet ministers in DAN-III.
Rio warned that he would not spare non-performing ministers, parliamentary secretaries or advisers. He said his government would work with renewed dedication for all-round development of the state with focus on empowerment of youth and women and building of roads and developing the backward areas.
Hundreds of supporters of Nicky Kire, who is from Kohima town constituency and was inducted as parliamentary secretary for law and justice and land revenue, threw stones at the NPF central office here for not giving him a cabinet berth. The protesters broke several panes but before they could vandalize the office, police dispersed them. The protesters then marched to Rio’s official residence with their demand.
Sources close to Peseyie said the former Speaker had refused to take the PHED portfolio and demanded a plum post. His supporters threatened to launch an agitation, including putting up a blockade on NH 29 and disrupting water supply to Kohima if concrete steps were not taken by tomorrow.
Another source said Vikho- Yhoshu of Southern Angami-I constituency in Kohima district, who was inducted as parliamentary secretary for housing, had also refused to accept the portfolio. His supporters have also threatened to resort to an agitation.
Sources from Dimapur said tension was high as Tovihoto Ayemi was inducted as a parliamentary secretary while Dimapur had demanded a cabinet berth. The authorities have beefed up security in Kohima and elsewhere in the state, anticipating law and order problem from within the party.