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Speaker yet to take call on defection

Kohima, July 10: The Speaker of the Nagaland Assembly is yet to take a decision on the fate of three former NCP legislators who defected to the BJP recently.

T.M. Lotha, Imtilemba Sangtam and Mholumho Kikon said they had merged with the BJP on June 16 bringing down the NCP tally to one and increasing the BJP tally to four in the Assembly. However, the state unit of the NCP has ruled out the any merger with the BJP and demanded immediate disqualification of the three MLAs.

NCP president Sharad Pawar has also written a letter to Sazo saying his party has not dissolved in Nagaland nor merged with the BJP and demanded immediate disqualification of the three members.

Deputy Speaker Er. Levi Rengma said, “I don’t know why the Speaker has not taken a decision but I think he is consulting chief minister T.R. Zeliang and constitutional experts.”

The Naga People’s Front, the main constituent party of the ruling Democratic Alliance of Nagaland (DAN) government, said the move of the three MLAs was ill advised.

A source said the Speaker was caught in a tight spot for delaying the notification on the fate of the three MLAs.

On the other hand, the NPF is wary about the consolidation of BJP in the state. A party insider said the leadership was fairly nervous about the BJP consolidating its position in Nagaland at a time when the party is facing a crisis after Zeliang reshuffled his cabinet on May 24 and dropped five senior cabinet ministers.

A source said the NPF leadership has blamed former chief minister Neiphiu Rio for defection of three NCP legislators to the BJP despite the NPF being the largest party with 37 MLAs in the 60-member Assembly.