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Nagaland governor seeks trust vote by July 15

india Updated: Jul 11, 2017 23:48 IST

File photo of former Nagaland chief minister TR Zeliang claims to have the support of 44 MLAs in the 60-member state Assembly.


Nagaland governor PB Acharya has asked state chief minister Shurhozelie Liezietsu to prove his majority on the floor of the assembly by July 15. The directive from the governor, who holds additional charge of Arunachal Pradesh, came after former chief minister TR Zeliang claimed the government wanted Shurhozelie to resign by Thursday.

“The governor of Nagaland, PB Acharya, has directed the chief minister of Nagaland, Shurhozelie Liezietsu, to obtain the vote of confidence on the floor of Nagaland Legislative Assembly on or before 15th July,” a Raj Bhawan note said on Tuesday.

“This directive comes following the claim submitted by former chief minister TR Zeliang (on Sunday) to form the new government stating that he commands support of 34 MLAs and seven independents,” the note said.

The 34 MLAs referred to are of the ruling Naga People’s Front (NPF), who Zeliang said want him to take over from an “undemocratic” Shurhozelie overcome by “filial affection”.

Shurhozelie became the chief minister on February 22 after his predecessor Zeliang was forced to resign in the wake of violent protests by tribal groups against the state government’s move to hold civic elections with 33 per cent quota for women.

The trigger for the rebellion against Shurhozelie was his decision to make son Khriehu Liezietsu his advisor for “sacrificing” his assembly seat – Northern Angami-I – so that his father can contest to continue as chief minister.

Khriehu declined the offer to be the advisor with cabinet minister status on Monday, 13 days after his appointment.

Shurhozelie, also the president of NPF, is not an elected member of the 60-member assembly with an effective strength of 59. He needs to win the by-election to the Northern Angami-I seat on July 29.

Earlier in the day, Zeliang said from a resort in central Assam’s Kazirangan: “The governor has given time to Shurhozelie till July 13 (Thursday) to resign. If he doesn’t, we are going for a floor test.”

Zeliang and other rebel MLAs in his camp checked into the resort early Saturday morning to put pressure on Shurhozelie.

The former chief minister claimed his camp has 44 MLAs – 37 of them from ruling NPF and seven Independents – besides the backing of four BJP legislators. Except for one MLA who is undergoing treatment in Kohima, 43 MLAs including “myself” are in the Kaziranga resort, he said.

“The chief minister is asking our MLAs to go back to Kohima from Kaziranga. He is threatening them with disqualification out of sheer desperation. How can one run a government if 44 MLAs in a 60-member assembly with an effective strength of 59 are disqualified?” Zeliang asked.

He also said Shurhozelie had offered him to take over but without the group of MLAs who are close to NPF’s Lok Sabha member and former chief minister Neiphiu Rio.

“They (Shurhozelie’s group) told Rio to take over after I said no to the deal. Rio told them he could not go back on his decision to support me,” Zeliang said.

At least six NPF legislators are believed to be with Rio, who was suspended last year for “anti-party activities”.

Zeliang, who was forced to quit in February by many of the MLAs now with him, criticised Shurhozelie for being vindictive against four ministers. The four, axed on Sunday after siding with Zeliang, were given seven days’ time to vacate their official quarters while their official vehicles and security were withdrawn.

“The normal time is a month. I used to give 30 days’ time when I was the chief minister,” Zeliang said.

Nagaland is facing a political crisis for the third time in more than two years because of a power struggle within the ruling NPF. Zeliang, who replaced Rio as chief minister in 2014 after the latter decided to contest the Lok Sabha polls, survived a floor test in February 2015 when Rio tried to return to state politics.

Zeliang faced rebellion within the NPF in February this year after the government’s decision to hold the civic polls with quota for women triggered a series of violent protests.

First Published: Jul 11, 2017 21:33 IST