Kohima, Sept. 23: Apprehensive of a leadership crisis in the Naga People’s Front, the ruling Democratic Alliance of Nagaland today decided not to send chief minister Neiphiu Rio to the Lok Sabha.
The decision was taken during a meeting held this afternoon at the NPF central office. Elected members from NPF, BJP, JD (U) and NCP, along with their top party managers, attended the closed door meeting and unanimously passed a resolution, “totally” ruling out the possibility of sending Rio to Delhi. The resolution will be handed over to the chief minister as and when he reaches the state after his overseas tour.
“We are little apprehensive, that is why we have decided not to send him to Delhi,” minister for health and family welfare, Imkong L. Imchen said. Minister for roads and bridges Kuzholuzo Nienu also did not rule out a leadership crisis if Rio decides to go to Delhi. But he said DAN has taken a decision not to send the chief minister to the Lok Sabha. “He (Rio) has to accept the resolution of the majority,” he added.
Rio has already spelt out his ambition to become a member of the Lok Sabha. NPF president Shurhozelie Liezietsu said it was a consensus decision that DAN will not send Rio to Delhi. All senior members of the DAN were of the view that Rio’s role in the state is more important than in Delhi. They said the people of the state still need Rio’s role in state politics as well as in its socio-economic development.
NPF leaders expressed apprehension over the impending leadership crisis, particularly in the NPF if Rio leaves for Delhi. Not only the NPF, which considered Rio as an undisputed leader, but also the opposition Congress said Rio’s departure would be the end of NPF in the state.
While the chief minister was trying to groom his younger brother, Zhaleo Rio, now parliamentary secretary for urban development, it was understood that the majority of NPF would not support Zhaleo taking over the mantle of the state. Even senior NPF members who are in the list of chief ministerial candidates would not subscribe to dynastic power politics. Neither would the BJP and JD (U), who have one MLA each in the DAN. NCP, which has four MLAs has been extending outside support to the government. Minister for planning and coordination, T.R. Zeliang and home minister G. Kaito Aye did not attend today’s meeting as they were reportedly out of station.
State BJP president N. Chuba Ao said DAN had elected Rio as their leader and that today’s meeting has decided not to let him contest for a Lok Sabh seat. The JD (U) said it would go by the decision of the bigger party, the NPF. Nienu said today’s meeting was convened to dispel any misgivings and rumours about Rio going to Lok Sabha and to bury the issue once and for all.
Representatives of the Independent Forum also attended the meeting. There are eight Independent MLAs in the DAN government.
Even with the Rio issue settled, the DAN is expected to face an internal crisis as the Lok Sabha poll is fast approaching and several senior NPF leaders are eyeing the only seat.