With most of his party’s legislators wanting him out, it is just a matter of time before Nagaland chief minister T R Zeliang bows down to the demands of tribal bodies and step down from his post.
The 64-year-old rushed to New Delhi on Thursday in a last minute attempt to save his chair. He has also requested Nagaland Tribes Action Committee (NTAC) for 2-3 more days for a “smooth transition of office”.
Zeliang is expected to return to Nagaland on Friday and submit his resignation to Governor PB Acharya, who is also in New Delhi to discuss the political developments in the state.
“In view of the present situation, we had a meeting of Nagaland People’s Front (NPF) legislators at Kohima on Thursday. A final decision would be taken after the CM’s return from Delhi,” parliamentary affairs minister K Peseyie said.
Forty two of the 48 NPF MLAs had decided on Thursday evening to support party president Shurozelie Liezietsu as the next chief minister. But the 81-year-old is yet to give his assent.
The decision by NPF MLAs was an attempt to diffuse the present crisis in the state as a result of demand by tribal organisations for Zeliang’s ouster and the refusal by the latter to step down.
NPF heads the Democratic Alliance of Nagaland government in the state of which BJP with 4 legislators is also a part. Eight Independent MLAs in the 60-member assembly also support the present coalition.
In view of Thursday’s development, NTAC, which had enforced a total shutdown across the state since Monday, has decided to postpone its protest rally in Kohima on Friday.
“We are waiting for Zeliang to come back from Delhi and see what he does. In the meantime, the protest rally has been postponed. The general strike would continue,” NTAC convenor KT Vilie said.
On Thursday, Zeliang had requested NTAC, the organisation spearheading the demand for his resignation, to give him 2-3 more days to ensure “smooth transition” and in “the larger interest of the state”.
Tribal organisations, opposed to 33% reservation for women in municipal bodies, had given an ultimatum to Zeliang to step down by Friday.
They blame him for trying to hold municipal polls with women’s reservation and for the subsequent violence that erupted in Dimapur and Kohima due to opposition by tribal organisations.