NE Dispatch: Nagaland’s CM Appoints Son as ‘Adviser’; CBI Interrogates Tripura Minister

A round-up of what’s happening in India’s Northeast.

Credit: PTi

Nagaland chief minister Shurhozelie Liezietzu Credit: PTi

Nagaland: CM appoints son as “advisor” to his govt with cabinet status

Nagaland chief minister Shurhozelie Liezietzu has appointed his son Khriehu Liezietsu an “adviser” to his government with cabinet status. Khriehu, an MLA from Northern Angami who vacated the seat this past May to make way for his father to get elected to the state assembly within the stipulated time of six months, has also been asked to retain the post of parliamentary secretary of the music task force, a position he held before resigning from the assembly.

An official order issued on June 28, said the chief minister’s son “is entitled to pay and allowances and all other facilities admissible to a cabinet minister”. A cabinet minister in the state is paid a salary of Rs 55,000 besides perks amounting to a similar amount every month.

The decision of the chief minister has attracted a lot of criticism from the civil society and political opponents.  In a statement condemning the act, state Pradesh Congress Committee said, “The father-son duo has taken nepotism in the state to greater heights. While the NPCC has no issues in the father-son duo running the affairs of the NPF as their personal fiefdom, yet the affairs of the government cannot be allowed to be turned, twisted and manipulated to suit the interest of father-son combine.”

Shurhozelie took over as the state chief minister from party leader T R Zeliang this past February following widespread protest to the state government’s decision to hold urban local bodies elections with 33 per cent reservation for women. The polls were later postponed.

The Democratic Alliance of Nagaland (DAN) government is led by Naga People’s Front with support from the Bharatiya Janata Party.

Manipur: State government revives public transport system after over a decade

The Manipur government has begun the process of reviving the public transport system in the state by reintroducing bus services in a phased manner from June 25 onwards.

As per local media reports, the services under Manipur State Transport (MST) department has been restored in 14 routes after a gap of over a decade. People across the state use private vehicles, taxis and three-wheelers in the absence of a public transport system, thus spending a lot of money in daily commuting.

Manipur chief-minister N Biren Singh taking a ride in a city bus in Imphal. Credit: Twitter

Manipur chief-minister N Biren Singh taking a ride in a city bus in Imphal. Credit: Twitter

The MST buses were flagged off by chief minister N Biren Singh to ply on two routes within the state capital Imphal and to six district headquarters. Singh also commissioned the inter-state bus terminus complex at Khuman Lampak in Imphal.

Speaking at the function, he expressed happiness over the launch of the service on the eve of Eid and on the occasion of the Rath Jatra festival, and stated that his government “is in the process of procuring more buses at the earliest which will ply in the remaining districts.”

Since many of the roads across the state are in urgent need of repair, works minister Th. Biswajit, present on the occasion, said the Centre has agreed to sanction Rs 600 crores for development of road infrastructure in the state.

Both Singh and Biswajit took a ride in a city bus.

As per local media reports, the fleet size of the public buses would be increased to 150 in three phases. The fleet size of the first phase is 15 which includes 10 semi-low floor buses. The MST services covered in the first inter-district routes are Imphal-Noney, Imphal-Moreh, Imphal-Kakching, Imphal-Yairipok, Imphal-Moirang and Imphal-Pherzawl inter-district bus services.

In 2012, the then Ibobi Singh government couldn’t revive the state transport service even though the then central government agreed to give the state 25 semi-low floor buses. The then government reportedly couldn’t do it due to lack of funds and private bidders willing to bid for operation and maintenance of the buses.  

Tripura: CBI interrogates state social welfare minister 

Officials of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) interrogated Tripura social welfare, environment and science and technology minister Bijita Nath in connection with a case of the Rose Valley chit fund scam on June 29.

As per media reports, CBI inspector Bratin Ghoshal, who arrived in Agartala from Kolkata a day before, interrogated Nath at her official chamber for one and a half hours. An official of the State Bank of India was alsosaid to be present during the interrogation.  

While the CBI officials refused to take questions from the media, Nath too refused to divulge any details to reporters, alleging that she has been “politically victimized.”

Tripura social welfare minister Bijita Nath. Source; Tripura government.

Tripura social welfare minister Bijita Nath. Source; Tripura government.

“I was politically victimised. I do not know from where it was spread about my reported involvement with the Rose Valley chit organisation,” said the ruling CPI-M leader.

She said, “A false CBI notice involving my name and today’s meeting was also circulated among the media before the interrogation. The CBI officials told me that they did not divulge anything to the media about today’s questioning. I therefore urge the media to be more cautious while writing about a minister and a woman.”

The state government brought a law in 2000 to deal with illegal non-banking financial companies (NDFCs) and chit fund companies and has been confiscating movable and immovable properties of the Rose Valley chit fund company in the state since 2016. The government formed a special investigation team (SIT) in 2015 as per a state high court order to probe the case. Prior to the court order, in 2013, the Manik Sarkar government referred 37 cases related to chit fund companies and NBFCs to the CBI, out of which it took up five. The Rose Valley case is one of them, which is also under the scanner of the Enforcement Directorate. Company chairman Gautam Kundu has been in jail in Kolkata since 2015.

Following the CBI notice to Nath, on June 28, the state government replaced inspector general of police (law and order) K V Sreejesh with deputy inspector general of police Uttam Majumder as the head of the SIT. It has attracted a lot of criticism from the opposition parties.  

Citing political vendetta by the ruling BJP government at the centre, the Manik Sarkar government has also refused to accept the demand of the opposition parties to drop Nath from the cabinet after the CBI interrogation.

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