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Nagaland polls: Walkover for former CM Neiphiu Rio as NPF withdraws candidate

Rio had quit the NPF over differences with the party leadership after serving as the state chief minister for three terms. He joined the newly formed NDPP last month.

Nagaland Election 2018 Updated: Feb 12, 2018 20:58 IST
Utpal Parashar
Utpal Parashar
HT Correspondent, Guwahati
Neiphiu Rio,Naga People's Party,Nagaland assembly polls
Former Nagaland chief minister Neiphiu Rio (right) with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. (HT File)

Former chief minister Neiphiu Rio became the first winner in the Nagaland assembly polls after his lone opponent, ruling Naga People’s Front (NPF) candidate Chupfuo Angami, withdrew his nomination papers from the Northern Angami-II seat on Monday.

“Rio, who is representing the Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP), was elected unopposed after the NPF candidate withdrew from the contest,” said Nagaland chief electoral officer Abhijit Sinha.

Rio had quit the NPF over differences with the party leadership after serving as the state chief minister for three terms. He joined the newly formed NDPP last month.

The BJP ditched its 15-year partnership with the NPF-led Democratic Alliance of Nagaland (DAN) to sew a pre-poll alliance with the NDPP earlier this month.

As per the seat-sharing formula between the two parties, the NDPP would contest 40 of the 60 seats in the state while the BJP fields its candidates from the rest. Monday was the last day for withdrawal of nominations for the state assembly polls, scheduled for February 27.

A member of the Angami tribe, 67-year-old Rio is a prominent political figure in the northeastern state. He is also the chief ministerial candidate of the NDPP-BJP combine.

Rio was first elected to the assembly in 1989 on a Congress ticket, and later inducted as a minister in the SC Jamir cabinet. He won from the same seat in 1993, again as a Congress candidate. He served as the home minister under the Congress government between 1998 and 2002, before quitting the party over differences with Jamir and joining the NPF.

The veteran politician became the chief minister for the first time in 2003, when the NPP-led DAN coalition won the assembly polls. The alliance returned to power in 2008, again with Rio at the helm.

Rio became the chief minister for the third time in 2013, but a desire to play a bigger role in national politics made him quit the post and contest the 2014 Lok Sabha polls. He won, but failed to find a place in the Union cabinet despite the NPF being an ally of the BJP-led NDA.

He returned to Nagaland politics last year, but competition for the top post from chief minister TR Zeliang and party president Shurhozelie Liezietsu spurred him to switch over to the NDPP.

First Published: Feb 12, 2018 18:15 IST