Kohima: Nagaland Chief Minister T.R. Zeliang resigned on February 19 against the backdrop of widespread protests in the state. Protests were triggered by the government decision to reserve 33% of the seats for women in urban local bodies.
Neiphiu Rio, former chief minister of Nagaland and the sole member of parliament from the state, appears to be a front-runner for the position.
A statement from the chief minister’s office said Zeliang was stepping down and a consensus leader will be chosen tomorrow morning at the Naga People’s Front (NPF) Legislature Party meeting.
Governor P.B. Acharya accepted Zeliang’s resignation and asked him to continue till further arrangements were made, official sources said.
The NPF meeting today will be followed by a meeting of the Democratic Alliance of Nagaland (DAN) at 11 am.
In the 60-member assembly, Rio is said to be commanding the support of 49 MLAs, including eight independent candidates.
At least three MLAs, including Speaker Chotisuh Sazo, are with party president Shurhozelie Liezitsu.
The BJP has four MLAs in the state.
NPF sources said both Rio and Zeliang had met Union home minister Rajnath Singh in New Delhi yesterday.
Zeliang had gone to Delhi on February 16 after seeking two-three days’ time to step down from the post of chief minister and ensure a “smooth transition” of power.
Nagaland has been rocked by widespread protests since last month after the state government announced that in the urban local body (ULB) elections, 33% of the seats would be reserved for women.
Tribal bodies have been demanding the resignation of Zeliang, who headed the DAN government, and had set last Friday as the deadline.
Different organisations in the state demanded that the state government declare the ULB elections null and void. In addition, they wanted to suspend the police and security personnel involved in the January 31 firing on the protesters, which led to the death of two youths in Dimapur. Lastly, demands were made that Zeliang step down from the post of chief minister.
The Nagaland government fulfilled the demand of the Nagaland Tribes Action Committee Kohima and Joint Coordination Committee, declaring the entire process of ULB election with 33% reservation for women null and void.
Its second demand of suspending security personnel has been partially fulfilled, as the individuals have been transferred.