Shurhozelie to take over as Nagaland CM, Zeliang in Delhi

Kohima, Feb 16 (IANS) Ruling Naga People’s Front (NPF) supremo Shurhozelie Liezietsu will take over from Chief Minister T.R. Zeliang after 42 of the 49 legislators “unanimously supported” the former as the new legislature party leader, a top NPF leader said on Thursday.

“Majority of the NPF legislators have unanimously elected Shurhozelie as their new legislature party leader to break the deadlock between the agitating groups and the government. We have tried our best to persuade the groups but they refused to climb down,” Nagaland’s lone Rajya Sabha member K.G. Kenye told IANS.

“Shurhozelie has accepted the offer of the legislators to lead the NPF-led Democratic Alliance of Nagaland (DAN) government to restore normalcy and prevent the imposition of President’s rule in the state,” Kenye said.

In the meantime, Governor P.B. Acharya and Zeliang left for New Delhi on Thursday afternoon from Dimapur.

Zeliang is expected to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh.

Agitating tribal groups — under the banner of Nagaland Tribes Action Committee (NTAC) and Joint Coordination Committee (JCC) — have been demanding the resignation of Zeliang over his decision to conduct civic bodies’ elections with 33 per cent reservation for women.

On Wednesday, the group had served the Chief Minister an ultimatum to resign or face further protests. Their three-day ultimatum will end on February 17. The groups have decided to hold a public rally on Friday at Kohima to mount pressure on Zeliang to step down.

“Had the Governor and the Chief Minister not left Kohima (state capital), Shurhozelie along with the legislators would have driven down to Raj Bhavan to stake claim and form the new government,” Kenye said.

He said that both the Chief Minister and the Governor are expected to return to Kohima on Friday to pave way for formation of the new government.

“We are sure that there will be smooth transition of power as the Chief Minister himself wants to ensure peace in the state after weeks of agitation,” he added.

When IANS tried to contact Zeliang for his comment, he did not take the call.

Nagaland has been on turmoil since January, after the NPF-led government decided to hold local body elections in 12 towns across the state.

The government later declared the civic elections as “null” and “void”.

Three persons were killed and many injured following clashes between police and the public, who were opposing the civic polls.

In fact, NPF legislator Neiphrezo Keditsu had resigned as Chairman of Nagaland State Mineral Development Corporation Limited on moral grounds since one of the persons killed in the Dimapur police firing was from his village.

On Thursday, normal life remained paralysed as the indefinite shutdown sponsored by the tribal bodies entered the fourth day after Zeliang refused to accede to the demand to step down.

The state secretariat, state and central government offices, banks, shops and other businesses remained closed.

National Highway-2, which connects the main commercial town of Dimapur with the poll-bound state of Manipur, was also affected.

Volunteers were seen picketing the road to prevent traffic movement and the government employees from attending their official duties; even as security forces were seen patrolling the roads to thwart any untoward incident.

“We are keeping a close watch on the situation in the wake of these political developments and the state and central machineries will ensure to prevent breakdown of law and order,” a police official said.

–IANS

rrk/rn

Top