Pressure on Rio to rethink portfolios - Plum posts to backward districts resented

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  • Published 9.03.13

Kohima, March 8: The Nagaland People’s Front-led Democratic Alliance of Nagaland government continues to reel under the onslaught of legislators unhappy with the allocation of cabinet berths and portfolios.

Sources said the primary reason behind the dissidence was the induction of first-timers in the cabinet and as parliamentary secretaries and the allocation of plum portfolios to the newcomers.

Sources said legislators from developed districts were irked that Rio had allocated some of the best portfolios to lawmakers from the backward districts of Mon, Kiphire, Longleng and Tuensang.

Ministerial berths have been given to Noke Konyak from Tapi in Mon district (social welfare), E.M. Chang from Tuensang (school education), S. Pangnyu from Longleng (industries and commerce) and E.E. Pangteang from Moka in Mon district (tourism) while C. Kipili Sangtam from Seyochung Sitimi in Kiphire district (power), C.L. John from Tehok in Mon district (rural development and rural employment & poverty alleviation) and B.S. Nganlang from Tamlu in Longleng district (land resources) bagged parliamentary secretary posts.

Moreover, Naiba Konyak from Tobu in Mon district was made adviser, development of underdeveloped areas, a cabinet rank, P. Longon from Noklak in Tuensang was made chairman of State Planning Board, a cabinet rank, and former PCC president and former Lok Sabha MP Chingwang Konyak from Mon was made political adviser to the chief minister.

Rio himself has retained finance, personnel and administrative reforms portfolios. His allocation of the urban development department to first-time legislator from Ghaspani II constituency and his brother, Zhaleo, has also added fuel to the fire. NPF president Shurhozelie Liezietsu, who was the urban development minister in the last ministry, has been made DAN chairman with cabinet status.

The fire was sparked by the induction of Merentoshi Jamir, son of chief secretary Alemtemshi Jamir, once the blue-eyed boy of former Congress chief minister S.C. Jamir, and former Lok Sabha MP C.M. Chang in the cabinet.

NPF sources said Rio had to reward Alemtemshi with the induction of his son into the cabinet because of the active role he and his wife played in the run-up to the election.

Veteran NPF leader Noke Konyak, who had lost in 2008 but won this time from Mon town, was inducted but third time winner Naiba Konyak was denied a berth. Both are from Mon district.

The Mon unit of NPF was not happy with Noke’s induction and said it was an insult to the people of the district.

The Pochury community from Meluri also voiced its resentment to Rio as did communities from Mokokchung, Dimapur and Kiphire.

Though the trouble in Kohima has ebbed, NPF insiders said Rio’s own people from Kohima district had damaged his image and popularity.

Supporters of Nicky Kire had damaged the NPF central office here on March 5 and tried to storm the chief minister’s official residence, while supporters of Khriehu Liezietsu, son of NPF president Shurhozelie Liezietsu, also protested at High School area here the same evening. Former Speaker Kiyanielie Peseyie and Vekho-o Yhoshu, both from Kohima district, also protested against portfolio allocation.

Kiyanilie who had been given public health engineering, has now bagged social welfare with its many centrally sponsored schemes, while Nicky and Vikho-o, both parliamentary secretaries, were allocated labour and employment and treasury and accounts in addition to their current portfolios. Khriehu has been appointed adviser, music task force, and chairman, Kohima district planning and development board.

Parliamentary secretary Tovihoto Ayemi, who has been protesting against his portfolio, was given additional charge of the tax department and made the chairman of Dimapur district planning and development board.

There are reports of politicking in the DAN camp but Rio’s close aides said everything was okay.

The government now has 12 cabinet members, 21 parliamentary secretaries, two advisers and a chairman.