Kohima, May 27: The Naga People’s Front was disappointed but has not yet lost hope in the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government for the induction of Lok Sabha MP Neiphiu Rio in the ministry.
Chief minister T.R. Zeliang, who was in New Delhi to attend the swearing-in of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has come back while Rio is still in the capital with BJP leaders of the state unit.
“The party had been expecting that Rio would be in the first list after he was invited to speak at the Parliament Central Hall on May 20. We are still very hopeful of the next expansion,” said Shilumar Ao, in-charge of the press bureau of the NPF’s central office here.
He said the NPF has not yet lost hope, as Rio has been a close associate of Modi and of top BJP central leaders for quite some time.
Ao expressed hope that the BJP would acknowledge Rio and the NPF’s contribution in strengthening the NDA.
“We don’t know why he was not included in the first list,” said forest and border affairs minister Y. Patton who also attended the swearing-in ceremony.
Patton said they are expecting Rio to be inducted in the next expansion, which would take place within a couple of months.
BJP national vice-president for Scheduled Tribes, Johnny Rengma, said the NPF should not be surprised, by not inducting Rio this time as he (Rio) had joined the NDA recently. “First the central leaders have to study him and take a decision,” he added.
He asked Rio to be patient and wait for the decision of the BJP party high-command. “He joined us only yesterday,” he added.
The BJP leader said Rio has been in and out of the NDA for sometime.
Rengma said the state unit of the BJP led by president N. Chuba Ao and other leaders are lobbying for Rio in New Delhi but such move would not convince the BJP leaders.
Despite opposition, Rio had decided to contest the polls and since then he has been regularly meeting Modi, lobbying for a ministerial berth in the government.
Before elections BJP leaders had assured him of a cabinet berth.
Ao who is camping in New Delhi, also hoped that in the next expansion, Rio will be inducted.
“I think Modi wanted to first induct major partners of the NDA and later, the smaller parties,” Ao said.
He said state party leaders would not be meeting central leaders immediately as party president Rajnath Singh would be soon replaced by a new president.