Rio takes centrestage in Nagaland

Six BJP legislators take oath

By Pradeep Pareek in Dimapur
  • Published 9.03.18
(From left) Manipur chief minister N. Biren Singh, Nagaland chief minister Neiphiu Rio, Assam chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal, Arunachal Pradesh chief minister Pema Khandu and Meghalaya chief minister Conrad Sangma in Kohima on Thursday. Picture by Abdul Sajid

Dimapur: Neiphiu Rio was sworn in as the chief minister of Nagaland for the fourth time in Kohima on Thursday along with 11 cabinet ministers, six of them from ally BJP.

Governor P.B. Acharya administered the oath of office to the 12-member council of ministers at Khuochiezie (local ground). The venue holds significance as Nagaland's statehood was announced here on December 1, 1963.

Rio will have to prove his majority in the 60-member House on or before March 16.

The Rio-led Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP), the senior partner in the People's Democratic Alliance (PDA) with 18 MLAs, has got four berths in the council of ministers. Two berths went to the lone JDU legislator G. Kaito Aye and Independent Tongpang Ozukum who are supporting the NDPP-BJP government. The BJP has got 12 MLAs in the 60-member Assembly.

Apart from Rio, the NDPP ministers are C.M. Chang, Neiba Kronu and Metsubo Jamir while the BJP ministers are Yanthungo Patton (deputy chief minister), S. Pangnyu Phom, P. Paiwang Konyak, N. Jacob Zhimomi, V. Kashiho Sangtam and Temjen Imna.

BJP president Amit Shah, defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman, Union minister of state for home Kiren Rijiju, North East Democratic Alliance convener Himanta Biswa Sarma, the chief ministers of five BJP-ruled/supported states in the Northeast - Sarbananda Sonowal (Assam), N. Biren Singh (Manipur), Pema Khandu (Arunachal Pradesh), Conrad Sangma (Meghalaya) and BJP national general secretary Ram Madhav attended.

Rio's predecessor T.R. Zeliang, the leader of the Opposition in the 13th Nagaland Legislative Assembly, was also there with other leaders of the Opposition Naga People's Front (NPF), which has 26 MLAs. The 12th Assembly was without any Opposition.

After the swearing-in, Rio promised to remove VIP culture from Nagaland, to promote meritocracy, ensure good governance, transparency and working together with neighbouring states with a spirit of understanding.

He said an early and final settlement to the protracted Naga political issue would remain foremost on his government's priority list.

In its first order, the new government banned the use of designation nameplates on vehicles under the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, and Central Motor Vehicle Rules, 1989.

All government officials and functionaries have been directed not to display their designations on their vehicles. Violators will face action under Section 177 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988.

However, ministers and MLAs will be given colour-coded car stickers to facilitate their movement across the state.

Rio said the NPP which withdrew support on Wednesday, was still in the PDA. The NPP with its two MLAs are, however, yet to join the PDA government.

Stadium renamed: The Indira Gandhi Stadium in Kohima was renamed T. Ao Stadium by the Rio-led cabinet at its maiden meeting held immediately after the swearing-in on Thursday.

The cabinet decided to rename the stadium "in memory of the first Naga Olympian to coincide with the centenary year of the sports legend". Dr Talimeren Ao had led the Indian Football team in 1948 London Olympics.

A senior BJP leader, seeking anonymity, said they would consider changing names of public infrastructure named after leaders of its archrivals, the Congress.

The Rio-led cabinet has six BJP, four NDPP, One JDU and one Independent members.