Just a day before a crucial floor test in the Nagaland state assembly, the Election Commission of India has refused to issue any interim direction regarding the battle within the Naga People’s Front (NPF) to oust chief minster TR Zeliang.
The latest power struggle in the state is reported to be a result of the rivalry between chief minister TR Zeliang and former CM and the state’s sole sitting MP Neiphu Rio. The party is divided into two factions — one supporting Zeliang and the other Neiphu Rio.
“We have already initiated the process of enquiry…The parties to the dispute have been given time up to 16 February to submit their respective written submissions and supporting documents. Therefore, no interim direction recognizing either of the parties as the NPF under the Symbols Order or any person as its President can be given at this stage,” an EC order on Wednesday said. “Till the time the dispute is decided by the commission, EC will not take cognizance of any disciplinary action against any member of the party by either of parties to the dispute.”
NPF has 38 MLAs in the ruling Democratic Alliance of Nagaland (DAN), which has 52 members in the 60-member assembly in the hilly state. BJP, with four MLAs, is part of DAN and has decided to stay neutral.
“The directive for the BJP legislators to remain neutral by abstaining from voting has come from the party headquarters,” BJP general secretary (organisation) Prashant Arora said. Minus the BJP legislators, the trial of strength could be a close affair.
“The floor test will clear the air of confusion over who has majority,” Zeliang said.
Imkong L Imchen, spokesperson of the dissident group headed by Noke Wangnao, said Zeliang’s ouster was imminent.
Naga Hoho, the apex body of all Naga tribes, has asked the warring NPF factions to reconcile and end the political crisis in the greater interest of the people.