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Zeliang in Delhi, flock in hotel

Kohima, May 19: The ruling Democratic Alliance of Nagaland (DAN) has chosen its new leader after chief minister Neiphiu Rio decided to leave for Delhi, but politicking continues in the state capital going by the movements of legislators.

Since May 17, supporters of chief minister designate T.R. Zeliang are holed up in the government-owned Hotel Japfu in Kohima. Zeliang, who is currently camping in New Delhi with outgoing chief minister and newly elected Lok Sabha MP Neiphiu Rio, was expected to return in a day or two.

But a nervous Zeliang has lodged all his MLAs inside the hotel, which looks like a makeshift jail.

He has claimed that he has the support of 35 MLAs, which include Naga People’s Front (NPF), Independents, the BJP and JD(U) and NCP members. There are 38 NPF legislators.

Some cabinet ministers supporting Zeliang are Kuzholuzo Nienu, minister for roads and bridges and chief whip of the NPF minister for social welfare Kiyanielie Peseyie and minister for forest and environment Y. Patton.

Minister for public health engineering Noke Wangnao was initially against Zeliang. But on Saturday before leaving for Delhi Zeliang said the crisis with Wangnao has been resolved. Zeliang thanked Wangnao for the magnanimous gesture.

Zeliang and his MLAs camped in Kazaringa National Park in Assam for nearly a week and came to Kohima to attend an emergency meeting on May 17, and since then they are holed up in the hotel waiting for their leader to return.

Sources said Zeliang wanted to form the next government as soon as possible but politicking continues in the NPF camp and the leadership crisis is expected to continue for sometime.

Despite repeated attempts, the authorities of Hotel Japfu refused to take calls.

The hotel’s gate has been sealed by men in civilian clothes.

Because of the political crisis in the state, the secretariat has remained almost deserted for a month while ministers and MLAs have stopped public interviews.

According to sources, Zeliang was expected to effect a minor reshuffle of his cabinet which might see some cabinet ministers and parliamentary secretaries’ heads rolling.