Tightrope walk for CM,Say experts

Neiphiu Rio has won the game of thrones but it could turn out to be a crown of thorns for the Nagaland chief minister.

  • Published 9.03.18

Guwahati/Dimapur: Neiphiu Rio has won the game of thrones but it could turn out to be a crown of thorns for the Nagaland chief minister.

Political observers said Rio, 67, who took oath as chief minister on Thursday, will not only have to contend with issues of governance but also the pulls and pressures of a coalition government and a strong Opposition in the Naga People's Front (NPF).

The NPF, unseated by the Rio-led Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP) and BJP combine in the recently held Assembly polls, emerged as the single largest party with 26 MLAs. The NDPP bagged 18 seats followed by its allies BJP 12, JDU one and an Independent MLA. The NPP (two MLAs) is yet to join the People's Democratic Alliance (PDA) government.

Political observers said the people of the state are looking forward to an early resolution of the Naga issue and undue delay could lead to resentment which could put the government under strain. The issues of development have to be addressed swiftly too. Poor condition of roads and bridges and under-development in health and education sectors are a huge concern.

Lack of numbers - the NDPP has only four cabinet berths - could also put Rio under strain as several party MLAs harbour ministerial ambitions. The NPP, sources said, did not join the government because they were not assured of cabinet berths.

Rio's predecessor, T.R. Zeliang, leader of the NPF Legislature Party, has promised to "extend full support" to the new government in the "larger" interest of the Naga people but has also indirectly conveyed to the new dispensation that the NPF will be no pushover, as it is a "factor" to be taken into "account" in all political processes.

A close aide of Zeliang said there is no "game over" in politics. "They have the numbers but the voice and mandate of the Naga people is with us," he said. The NPF has also warned of "revisiting" its ties with the BJP in Manipur, where NPF is a part of the coalition, after the BJP severed ties with it on Tuesday. Besides, NPF president Shürhozelie Liezietsu's absence from the swearing-in suggests that the Opposition cannot be taken lightly.

Rio, who was the chief minister of Nagaland from 2003 to 2014, has the experience of running a coalition. He has said the right things after taking charge - providing effective governance, checking VIP culture, working closely and unitedly with neighbouring states and facilitating the peace process for early resolution of naga political problem.

However, political observers said, he will have to play out of his skin to provide stability and development in a state which is clearly at a crossroads.