The long-running women’s quota row in Nagaland threatens to cost chief minister TR Zeliang his post as an overwhelming majority of lawmakers in his Naga People’s Front (NPF) wants him out.
He left for New Delhi on Thursday to meet “central leaders” in a bid to save his chair after 42 of 49 NPF legislators in the 60-member assembly supported party president Shürhozelie Liezietsu as his replacement.
This follows an ultimatum from patriarchal tribal organisations to the legislators to resign by Friday or face boycott in next year’s assembly elections. These organisations are spearheading a stir, which began two months ago, against urban local body polls in the state because 33% of the seats across 32 municipal agencies were reserved for women.
These outfits argue that the quota for women was against the provisions of Article 371(A) that guarantees protection of Naga customary laws and rights.
The NPF is an ally of the BJP in the Democratic Alliance of Nagaland government of which Liezietsu, 81, is the chairman.
The MLAs met at the initiative of Nagaland’s lone Rajya Sabha member KG Kenye on Wednesday night and projected Liezietsu as their chief minister to “tide over the crisis” arising out of the violent opposition to holding urban civic polls in the state.
Kenye said in Kohima that Liezietsu was reluctant to take charge.
“But he gave his consent to the decision of the MLAs. The lone issue confronting us now is the public’s demand for his (Zeliang’s) resignation. So, we thought it is best for him to step down, even if for some time,” he said and asserted there was no internal crisis in the NPF.
A Zeliang aide informed that the chief minister would meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union home minister Rajnath Singh in the national capital.
The organisations had been pushing for Zeliang’s ouster, holding him responsible for throwing life out of gear with the decision to go ahead with the urban polls despite protests. They had imposed indefinite shutdown since February 1, the day the polls were scheduled but not held.