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Zeliang oath tomorrow

Kohima. May 22: The new state cabinet in Nagaland, which will be sworn in on Saturday, will see some new faces.

“T.R. Zeliang will form the new cabinet on Saturday evening,” said Lalthara, former chief secretary and now adviser to the chief minister.

Minister for planning and co-ordination Zeliang has the support of 42 MLAs, which include four NCP, eight Independents and one each of BJP and JD (U).

Ten Naga People’s Front (NPF) MLAs are still outside his camp.

Sources from Zeliang’s camp said there was a demand for removing some cabinet ministers and parliamentary secretaries. Going by the indication and reports, at least two cabinet ministers are likely to be dropped on Saturday. “There has been demand for dropping of some ministers,” said a source.

Nagaland has 12 cabinet ministers and over 20 parliamentary secretaries.

Lathara said the swearing-in would be held around 5pm on Saturday, while chief minister Neiphiu Rio would tender his resignation tomorrow.

Zeliang is in a hurry to take over the chair as politicking continues even though Noke Wangnao is out of the race for chief ministership.

Sources in Zeliang’s camp said a ministerial reshuffle was likely after taking Rio’s opinion into consideration.

The sources said hectic parleys are under way for smooth transition of power. The immediate task before the new chief minister would be to fight corruption, ensure good governance and activate development.

The tussle for the post of chief minister has paralysed the state government for nearly a month as most of the MLAs were confined in hotels in Assam and Nagaland.

Nearly 40 MLAs supporting Zeliang, who were confined in the government-owned Japfu Hotel in the heart of Kohima since May 17, have vacated the hotel. But an air of uncertainty still prevails.

The outgoing chief minister, Neiphiu Rio, who won the Lok Sabha election from Nagaland, is likely to play a major role in the Narendra Modi-led NDA government at the Centre.

Modi has possibly chosen Rio to represent the Northeast because he is the leader of the umbrella group of Northeast Regional Political Front with the mandate to represent them.