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T.R. Zeliang steps down as Nagaland chief minister

LiveMint logoLiveMint 19-02-2017 PTI

Kohima: T.R. Zeliang on Sunday stepped down as the Nagaland chief minister in a dramatic turn of events in the violence-hit state.

A statement from the chief minister’s office confirmed Zeliang was stepping down, and a consensus leader will be chosen on Monday morning at Naga People’s Front (NPF) legislature party meeting.

Nagaland governor P.B. Acharya accepted Zeliang’s resignation, people familiar with the matter said.

The NPF meeting will be followed by a meeting of Democratic Alliance of Nagaland (DAN) at 11 am in Kohima.

In the 60-member assembly, a person in the NPF familiar with the development, claimed former chief minister and sole member of parliament (MP) from the state Neiphiu Rio, commanded the support of 49 members of legislative assembly (MLAs), including eight independents, while at least three are with the party president Dr. Shurhozelie Liezietsu.

The three include speaker Chotisuh Sazo. However, political analysts said that with ever-changing complexions, the strength of each side can be clear only after the back-to-back crucial meetings on Monday.

The legislators, holed up in a resort in Assam’s Kaziranga, had started leaving Kohima Friday night as Liezietsu was preparing to stake claim to replace Zeliang soon after the arrival of governor P.B. Acharya from New Delhi.

People aware of the development said both Rio and Zeliang met Union home minister Rajnath Singh in New Delhi on Saturday, but they refused to provide any details.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has four MLAs in the state.

Zeliang had left for Delhi on 16 February after seeking two days’ time to step down from the chief ministerial post.

Protests had erupted after the announcement of holding urban local bodies (ULB) elections with 33% reservation for women.

The Nagaland government had fulfilled the demand of Nagaland Tribes Action Committee (NTAC) Kohima, declaring the entire process of ULB elections with 33% reservation for women as null and void. Its second demand of suspending the personnel involved in 31 January police firing on the protesters leading to the killing of two youths in Dimapur has been partially fulfilled as they have been transferred.

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