President Pratibha Patil on Thursday signed a proclamation sacking the Neiphu Rio government and imposing central rule in Nagaland.
The move came within weeks of the Nagaland People’s Forum-led Democratic Alliance securing a controversial vote of confidence.
The presidential proclamation comes a day after Rio, the Nagaland Chief Minister, branded the hush-hush decision by the Union Cabinet on Tuesday as “illegal and unconstitutional”. He said the decision, taken at a hurriedly convened meeting, amounted to the “murder of democracy”.
Rio’s term would have ended next month and the state was due for Assembly elections. He had survived a controversial trial of strength on the floor of the Assembly on December 13 when it defeated a vote of no confidence, 23-19 in the 60-member House. But this was only after
the Speaker declared invalid the votes of the dissi-dent ruling Nagaland People’s Forum-led Demo-cratic Alliance members, who defied the party whip and voted against the government.
Rio reacted to the news of his dismissal angrily. “A similar situation had arisen in Goa too some time back, but the Congress government there is functioning smoothly. How can they apply different yardstick in the same country?” Rio asked.
The Leader of the Opposition and Congress legislature party, I Imkong, who has been campaigning for central rule for nearly two weeks and has led delegations to the President with 31 legislators, was jubilant. “We had demanded dismissal of the government because of the illegality and impropriety committed by the Speaker,” Imkong told Hindustan Times.
“We are happy that the Government of India has risen to the occasion to uphold the rule of law.” Information and broadcasting minister Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi said the Cabinet had voted for central rule in Nagaland at Tuesday’s meeting and recommended keeping the Assembly in suspended animation on the lines of Supreme Court pronouncements in this regard.
A home ministry official said the presidential proclamation was on the same lines.
(Inputs from Rahul Karmakar)