The crisis within Nagaland's Naga People's Front (NPF) government has further deepened with Chief Minister Shurhozelie Liezietsu on Sunday sacking four top ministers and 10 Parliamentary Secretaries following a demand for his removal.
His predecessor T.R.Zeliang, who wrote to Governor P.B.Acharya on Saturday, staking claim to form a new government, has arrived in New Delhi to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Rajnath Singh to appraise them of the political situation in the state.
He would also meet Acharya in New Delhi on his return from Maharashtra on Monday. Blaming Liezietsu for the political crisis in the state, Zeliang said: "The political crisis is caused by the undemocratic style of functioning of Liezietsu in both the party and the government.
"He (Liezietsu )is appointing his son (Khriehu) as his advisor, granting him the status of a cabinet minister without consulting the legislators." Earlier, Liezietsu recommended the Governor remove Home Minister Yanthungo Patton, Power Minister Kipili Sangtam, National Highway and Political Affairs Minister G. Kaito Aye, Forest and Environment and Climate Change Minister Imkong L. Imchen from the cabinet.
The development comes a day after T.R. Zeliang staked claim to form a new government, saying he has the support of 33 NPF legislators and seven Independents. Liezietsu, who is also the NPF supremo, has also sacked four NPF legislators and six Independent legislators, as Parliamentary Secretaries.
The Nagaland government issued notifications terminating the appointment of Zeliang as Advisor (Finance) and Nuklotoshi as Advisor to Chief Minister. Apart from the sackings, the NPF Disciplinary Action Committee which met on Saturday also suspended 10 legislators from the party's primary membership.
Those suspended include Patton, Sangtam, Aye, Imchen, as well as Shetoyi, Nuklutoshi, Deo Nukhu, Naiba Konyak, Benjongliba and Zeliang. Zeliang, along with 41 legislators, is camping at Borgos resort in Assam's Kaziranga National Park. "All 41 of us are intact and we are waiting only for Governor Acharya to invite Zeliang to form the government," Imchen told IANS.
"We don't care about (suspension from the party) it because those people who have signed the suspension order do not have the grassroots support," he said but refused to divulge more details. The fresh political instability has come at a time when Liezietsu is gearing up for the July 29 by-election from the Northern Angami-I assembly constituency.
Liezietsu was sworn in as Chief Minister on February 22 this year after Zeliang resigned following violent protest by tribal groups who were opposed to his move to hold civic polls with 33 per cent reservation for women. The Chief Minister said that he was deeply pained by the recent disturbing developments affecting the normal functioning of the government.
"The current issue is within the NPF party and will be resolved at the earliest to bring about normalcy in the state. The mandate of the people will be respected and the present crisis will be resolved in the larger interest of the people of the state," he said. Stressing that the NPF-led government will complete its full term, he appealed to the state's people to remain calm.
In the truncated 59-member assembly, the ruling Democratic Alliance of Nagaland coalition government comprises 47 NPF legislators, four Bharatiya Janata Party and eight Independents. Zeliang has even warmed up to his once bitter rival Neiphiu Rio, a three-time Chief Minister and now the lone MP from the state, who was suspended two years back for "anti-party activities", particularly against Zeliang.