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Rio to decide group allegiance at Centre

Guwahati, May 13: The North East Regional Parties Front (NERPF) — a conglomeration of regional parties of the Northeast — today empowered its convener and Nagaland chief minister Neiphiu Rio to take a decision on whom to support at the Centre.

This was decided at a meeting held at the AGP head office at Ambari here, which also functions at the front’s headquarters.

The front’s chief co-ordinator and AGP working president, Atul Bora, said today’s meeting adopted a resolution empowering Rio to take a decision on behalf of the front for the formation of a stable government at the Centre. Bora also welcomed the P.A. Sangma-led National People’s Party (NPP), which formally joined the front here today.

Rio said the front had entrusted him with a huge responsibility and he would take the decision in consultation with senior leaders of the front, including AGP president and NERPF chief adviser Prafulla Kumar Mahanta and Atul Bora.

On being asked how many seats the constituent parties of the front would win, Rio refused to speculate and said: “We will win some seats. Let’s wait till the results are declared,” he said.

When asked whether the front would support the NDA, with exit polls predicting a victory for the BJP-led alliance, Rio said a decision in this regard had not been taken yet. But some constituent parties of the front, who are in alliance with the BJP, may support the NDA.

Rio said the front would prepare a roadmap and a common minimum programme. “A committee, headed by Atul Bora, has been constituted today to prepare the common minimum programme,” he said.

Naga People’s Front (NPF) leader and adviser to the Nagaland chief minister, Abu Metha, will be the member secretary of the committee.

The front has remained non-committal about supporting the NDA because the AGP, which is one of its key constituents, could not forge a pre-poll alliance with the BJP.

But Rio’s NPF, which is an ally of the BJP, and Sangma’s NPP are likely to support the NDA if it comes to power and both the leaders, if they win, are also seen as strong contenders for ministerial berths.

The NERPF, which has 11 constituents, was formed in October last year to have a common platform to raise problems and issues concerning the region at the national level.

Rio successor

Nagaland chief minister Neiphiu Rio today said the issue of his successor had been settled in favour of T.R. Zeliang, Nagaland’s minister for planning and co-ordination.

This is the first time that Rio has formally announced Zeliang as his successor.

If Rio wins the Lok Sabha polls, which is likely, he will have to quit as Nagaland chief minister.

So a search had began for his successor.

Rio told reporters here today that there were two contenders and one had withdrawn from the race.

Therefore, Zeliang is now the unanimous choice as his successor.

Nagaland PHED minister Noke Wangnao was also in the race for the top post but withdrew after 22 NPF legislators extended support to Zeliang.

Rio today seemed to be relieved that the issue has been finally settled. Recently, he had expressed concern over the differences in the party over choosing his successor and stated that the party must stay united in the interest of the people.


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