For chief minister T.R. Zeliang, the New Year 2015 could prove crucial after being in office for seven months and ten days at the helm, as the challenge to his leadership appears more serious than ever.
Rebellion against the leadership of chief minister T.R.Zeliang within the ruling NPF legislature has resurfaced and this time, unlike in the past, the ranks of the rebel group has reportedly soared to 20 which one legislator, who was among those who attended the marathon day-long meeting Sunday in Dimapur, claimed “ there are more than 20 of us”.
With the numbers now at 20 or more, in favour of the dissident group, two of those who had attended the Sunday meeting, revealed to Nagaland Post, that a change in leadership was imminent within the current month of January.
Party sources confirmed that Lok Sabha MP Neiphiu Rio was present at the meeting of the dissidents held in Dimapur on Sunday. It was also revealed, that Rio would be holding another meeting with other NPF legislators who did not attend Sunday’s meeting, within a few days. The sources said Rio has been the catalyst of the dissident group for effecting a change in leadership of the party’s legislature.
The dissident group have held several meetings in the recent past, after Zeliang had taken over from his predecessor Neiphiu Rio but the meetings had not provided the number to press for a leadership change. The dissident ranks swelled because several were dissatisfied with their portfolios while some were disenchanted with the leadership of T.R. Zeliang.
After Rio vacated the chair, Zeliang managed to obtain the support of more than 25 out of 38 MLAs during the month of May and a showdown of sorts was avoided when remaining contender opted out and paving the was for Zelaing to be “unanimously elected” as the next chief minister. During the month of November last year, dissidence resurfaced when there were talks of putting up a candidate against incumbent NPF president Dr. Shürhozelie, the latter of who was not in favour of further change.
While one group of NPF leaders held a meeting in Kohima, the other group comprising of a few dissidents and others, held a meeting in Dimapur.
The unanimous re-election of Dr. Shürhozelie as the party president for another five-year term on November 26 last year, appeared to have doused any further enthusiasm for a leadership coup of sorts.
Though enjoying a brute majority of 38 the ruling NPF in alliance with BJP, JDU, NCP and eight independent legislators also forms a formidable 52 member alliance in a house of 60. However, the ruling NPF proposes and decides with the other allies having no option but to follow the charted political course.
There could be several issues that have led to growing disenchantments within the ruling party and each of them combined together has indeed pushed the matter to another crisis.
The issues that have been pronounced include -(a) pushing for early solution to the Naga political issue: the dissidents have projected the issue as the top agenda and opine that the issue can no longer be allowed to drag on further. The dissident group feel that T.R.Zeliang has not been assertive enough to press the government of India on the matter; (b) poor rapport between chief minister T.R.Zeliang with the NDA government at the Centre: It was stated, that chief minister T.R. Zeliang does not enjoy a good rapport with the BJP-led NDA government at the Centre and for which no special package was announced when prime minister Narendra Modi visited Nagaland last year on December 1 to inaugurate the Hornbill Festival-cum-Statehood Day.
Further, the group reportedly pointed out that the prime minister, in his speech at Kisama had not addressed any of the substantive issues involving the state and its people; (c) financial crisis- the continuing financial woes of the state has also led to feeling that chief minister T.R. Zeliang has failed to improve the position by not being able to convince Delhi to provide special grant to tide over the burgeoning financial deficit that is now pegged at a little more than Rs.1234 crore.
A cabinet minister, whose name had been propped up by the dissidents is likely to replace Zeliang if change was effected. It was also learnt that Zeliang and Rio flew on the same flight and reportedly stayed for two days in the same hotel in Kolkata from December 26. (Nagaland Post News)