Kohima: In a major political development, 21 MLAs of the Naga People’s Front (NPF) on Friday joined the Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP) of Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio. NDPP spokesperson Merentoshi R Jamir said that after these legislators of the NPF, which had 25 legislators earlier, switched sides, the party now has 42 MLAs in the 60-member Assembly.
According to sources, the NPF MLAs who joined the NDPP are former chief minister T R Zeliang, Moatoshi Longkumer, Azheto Zhimomi, Keneizhakho Nakhro, Y Vikheho Swu, Dr Chotisuh Sazo, Yitachu, Amenba Yaden, Imtiwapang Aier, Imkong L Imchen, Picto Shohe, Dr Chumben Murry, Y M Yollow (appointed as Minister on February 9 last in People Democratic Alliance led by Neiphiu Rio), C L John, N Thongwang Konyak, Eshak Konyak, E. E. Panteang, B S Nganlang Phom, Muthingnyuba Sangtam, Toyang Chang, and Kejong Chang.
As the Chairman of the United Democratic Alliance (UDA) joined the NDPP there will be some drawbacks to the proposed UDA ‘all-party Government’ in Nagaland Assembly. However, the NPF said “as long as the (all-party) issue is there, we will be part of the Government.”
Addressing a press conference after a meeting between NPF leadership and NPF Legislature Party in Kohima yesterday, NPF President Dr Shurhozelie Liezietsu maintained that the party “is intact” from all angles and said he was not surprised that the 21 NPF MLAs left the party. As far as the party organisation is concerned, we are intact, he maintained.
Replying to the comment of the Nagaland Assembly Speaker on the issue of “merger,” Dr Liezietsu said “To be very frank, it is not a merger. They have joined the NDPP,” and said, “On our part, it is clear defection.”
He said he was not surprised that the 21 NPF MLAs left the party; however, the party organisation is intact. He said ‘Till yesterday (April 29), we had 25 MLAs and 21 of them had gone; that was brought to our notice.
The four remaining NPF MLAs, who remained in the party are Khriehu Liezietsu, Kuzholuzo Nienu, Kezhienyi Khalo and Dr Nganshi K Ao.
The NPF President also said “we will be part of the UDA Government because we came together as an opposition-less Government on the ground of Naga political issue, Nienu said adding “As long as the issue is there, we will be part of the Government.”
Dr Liezietsu announced that MLA Kuzholuzo Nienu has been unanimously elected as leader of NPF Legislature Party and MLA Dr Ngangshi K Ao as Chief Whip of NPF Legislature Party.
He said the NPF wants to start on a “firm foundation” with people who are holding the party’s principles, ‘those who understand and keep their stature.’
“Even if the number of MLAs is reduced to four, we are not discouraged. Because, with these four strong people, we will revamp and re-activate our party activities,” he added.
While the NPF is left with four MLAs, the BJP has 12 while there are two Independent members. Assembly Speaker Sharingain Longkumer accepted the decision of the 21 NPF legislators to change party.
The development occurred ahead of the Assembly elections due next year and two days after NPF president Shurhozelie Liezietsu told reporters that the party would contest the polls on its own.
Chief Minister Rio and BJP president Temjen Imna Along have said that they would continue with the alliance and contest the elections with the 2018 seat sharing formula of 40-20. With agency inputs