In Nagaland, 81% of MLAs now have the status of a minister

TR Zeliang has doled out special statuses, giving 47 legislators loyal to him the same perks enjoyed by ministers. By protocol, the state can only have 12 ministers

india Updated: Jul 25, 2017 20:19 IST
Rahul Karmakar
Rahul Karmakar
Hindustan Times, Kohima
Nagaland,TR Zeliang,Nagaland chief minister
TR Zeliang was sworn-in as the new chief minister of Nagaland by governor PB Acharya at a ceremony in Kohima on July 19. (PTI FILE)

Nagaland chief minister TR Zeliang on Tuesday awarded the last of his 47 loyalist legislators with the status of a minister. Including him, the state assembly now has 81% MLAs as ministers, some by other designations.

The 60-member Nagaland assembly, with an effective strength of 59 after the resignation of an MLA in June, can have a maximum of 12 ministers. This works out to 20% of the House strength.

On Tuesday, Zeliang appointed eight MLAs as his advisors and 26 more as parliamentary secretaries. The rank and status of an advisor is equivalent to a cabinet minister and that of a parliamentary secretary to a minister of state.

Eleven of the remaining 47 MLAs in Zeliang’s camp are ministers while Imliwapang Aier is the Speaker, and Noke Wangnao the chairman of Democratic Alliance of Nagaland (DAN) government. The chairman’s is a cabinet rank.

Zeliang’s Naga People’s Front (NPF) heads the DAN whose other constituent is the Bharatiya Janata Party that has four MLAs. They, and seven independent MLAs, have been accommodated as virtual ministers.

Ironically, Zeliang’s group had revolted against former chief minister Shurhozelie Liezietsu after he made his son Khriehu Liezietsu his advisor with cabinet rank.

A fortnight-long power struggle over this issue saw Shurhozelie losing the chief minister’s chair to Zeliang on July 19.

Shurhozelie and 10 MLAs in his camp declined to comment on Tuesday’s development. But the Congress said it conveyed a trust deficit among the MLAs in Zeliang’s camp.

“Many of them helped him become CM, now they want their pound of flesh. They work for themselves, not for the people they represent,” state Congress president K Therie said.

Zeliang is reportedly under compulsion to keep everyone in his camp in good humour with the assembly elections nine months away.

Rivals said a failure to reward each of them could trigger another crisis in a politically-unstable state where MLAs often shift loyalty.

First Published: Jul 25, 2017 20:18 IST