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Two camps fight for CM chair

- Zeliang & Wangnao allegedly vying to be Rio’s successor

Kohima, May 9: The tussle seems to be growing within the Naga People’s Front (NPF) over who will succeed Neiphiu Rio, as the chief minister seems poised to win the lone parliamentary seat from Nagaland.

Two camps have allegedly been formed within the NPF, which leads the ruling Democratic Alliance of Nagaland (DAN) government with 38 legislators in the House of 60.

One of the camps is reportedly headed by planning and co-ordination minister T.R. Zeliang, who was once a close friend of Rio, and the other supposedly by public health engineering department minister Noke Wangnao.

The chief minister reportedly remains neutral but some NPF people are suspicious that, of late, a few old Congress hands are influencing Rio’s major decisions and this could create a rift in the party.

Currently, Rio’s advisers are Chingwang Konyak, a former Lok Sabha MP and former PCC president, and retired chief secretaries Lalthara and Alemtemshi Jamir, who is a behind-the-scenes adviser. Zeliang’s camp fears that Wangnao might become a remote-controlled chief minister. A source from Zeliang’s camp said Alemtemshi could become a senior adviser of Wangnao if he becomes the next chief minister.

“Our concern is to have a stable government and unity in the party,” a source in Zeliang’s camp said, adding, “We have enough members with T.R. Zeliang.”

Rio has convened a meeting of NPF legislators on Monday to take stock of the situation. It will immediately be followed by a meeting of DAN legislators.

Rally against killing

Hundreds of people took part in a rally at ADC Court in Dimapur today to condemn the killing of a Naga man allegedly by Assam police on April 30.

Supongtemjen Longkumer, 38, was killed in a forest area along the Assam-Nagaland boundary near Dimapur but his two friends escaped unharmed. Residents said some Assam police personnel from Sankartilla police outpost opened fire on four Nagas clearing the jungle around 8.30am.

The state government has deployed around 300 personnel of Nagaland Armed Police (India Reserve) along the disputed boundary near Dimapur while Assam police have arrested dozens of alleged Naga encroachers since last month. Today’s rally was organised by the Frontal Integrated Ranges of Meranger and Sensolikum. It urged the state government to press for the removal of the two Assam police camps near the border within 30 days and arrest the culprits behind the killing.