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NPF panel for smooth transition

Kohima, March 4: The ruling Democratic Alliance of Nagaland (DAN) has set up a core committee for a smooth transition if chief minister Neiphiu Rio wins in Lok Sabha polls and has to demit office.

Though DAN insiders are tight-lipped about the possible committee members, sources said some of them are cabinet ministers, including those eyeing the top post.

A source said the core committee would see there is a smooth transition after Rio quits office. But in the event of failure in the smooth transition, DAN would intervene.

The alliance has 38 NPF members, while the BJP and the JD (U) have one MLA each. The NCP, which has four MLAs, and eight Independent legislators are extending support to DAN.

However, Rio was unlikely to remain chief minister after the Lok Sabha polls as the NPF has virtually closed the door on him.

Sources said the NPF would not like to pave the way for a non-elected member to take the chief ministerís post. Party president Shurhozelie Liezietsu said they would not commit the mistake of allowing MPs to contest state elections without completing their tenure. In the past, MPs like T.R. Zeliang, C.M. Chang and Khekiho Zhimomi were allowed to contest Assembly elections without completing their tenure.

On the other hand, the DAN government is expected to face some trouble during the reshuffle since the Nagaland cabinet can only have 12 ministers.

The NPF had not ruled out rift in the government after Rioís departure and therefore, had requested him to remain chief minister. The Congress has said the NPF might collapse if Rio won the Lok Sabha polls.

There has been speculation that Rio might stay as chief minister even if the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) fails to come to power at the Centre. But sources said Rio has the option to join any group, which comes to power, even if he is not allowed to retain the chief ministerís post.

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