| Neiphiu Rio |
Kohima, April 28: The results of the Lok Sabha polls may still be a few weeks away but lobbying and politicking for the chief ministerís post has already begun.
Nagaland chief minister Neiphiu Rio is eyeing a parliament berth to fast track a solution to the Naga political problem. His shift to Delhi leaves behind a vacuum at the top of the ruling Democratic Alliance of Nagaland (DAN) and, according to rumours, quite a few people are eyeing the chief ministerís chair.
Sources said leaders of the Naga Peopleís Front (NPF), the main constituent of DAN, and its allies were seeking a smooth transfer of power.
An insider said the NPF leadership was having one-on-one meetings with the partyís lawmakers to find a consensus candidate.
Sources said the DAN has formed a committee to ensure smooth transition of power but there are apprehensions that this panel might not be united in their decisions. The NPF had warned Rio that he would be solely responsible for any future fallout in the party.
Senior and close aides of Rio, including health and family welfare minister Imkong L. Imchen and roads and bridges minister Khuzolhuzo Nienu, had opposed the chief ministerís decision to move from the state.
The names of home minister G. Kaito Ayeh and minister for planning and co-ordination T.R. Zeliang are doing the rounds for the top post. Both are strong contenders for the chief ministerís chair.
The name of senior NPF legislator and public health engineering department minister Noke Konyakís name is doing the rounds for the deputy chief ministerís post.
Legislators from the four backward districts of Mon, Longleng, Kiphire and Tuensang are also allegedly convening closed-door meetings to choose a capable chief minister. Of the 20 legislators from eastern Nagaland, 19 are part of the ruling government and one is from the Congress.
The names of industries and commerce minister Pangnyu Phom and former Lok Sabh MP Chingwang Konyak have surfaced as potential candidates propped up by the Eastern Nagaland Legislatorsí Union (ENLU). But since Konyak is not an elected member of the Assembly, his chances seem slim.
Unless something extraordinary happens, a non-elected member is unlikely to find favour. The legislators, apparently, donít want to repeat what happened in the early 90s when a non-elected member, Vamuzo, was chosen for the top job.
The sources said some ENLU members favour home minister Kaito and he is currently the front-runner for the chief ministerís job.