Nagaland Chief Minister TR Zeliang resigned on Sunday against the backdrop of widespread protests in the state triggered by the government's decision to reserve 33 percent seats for women in urban local bodies.
Neiphiu Rio, a former chief minister and Lok Sabha member from the state, and Naga People's Front chief Shurhozelie Liezietsu are in the race for the top seat.
A statement from the Chief Minister's Office said Zeliang was stepping down and a new leader will be chosen on Monday morning at the Naga People's Front (NPF) Legislature Party meeting.
Governor PB Acharya accepted Zeliang's resignation, but asked him to continue till further arrangements were made, official sources said.
The NPF meeting on Monday will be followed by a meeting of Democratic Alliance of Nagaland (DAN) at 11 am in Kohima.
On Wednesday, 42 of the 49 legislators had unanimously supported Shurhozelie as their new legislature party leader to break the deadlock between the agitating tribal groups and the government. However, a group of nearly 20 legislators, including some Cabinet ministers, were against 81-year-old Shurhozelie as their legislature party leader, and threw their weight behind three-time Chief Minister Rio.
On Saturday, 49 NPF and Independent legislators met Rio at Borgoch Resort, close to Assam's Kaziranga National Park. The legislators extended their support to Rio.
In the 60-member Assembly, the ruling Democratic Alliance of Nagaland coalition government comprises 48 NPF legislators, including suspended legislator Imkong Imchen, four Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MLAs and eight Independents.
NPF sources said both Rio and Zeliang had met Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh in New Delhi on Saturday. Zeliang had gone to Delhi on 16 February after seeking some time to step down from the Chief Minister's post and ensure a "smooth transition" of power.
Nagaland has been rocked by widespread protests since last month after the state government announced that 33 percent of seats in the Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) election would be reserved for women.
Tribal bodies have been demanding the resignation of Zeliang, who headed the Democratic Alliance of Nagaland (DAN) government, and had set last Friday as the deadline.
Different organisations in the state had demanded that the state government declare ULB elections null and void, suspend the police and security personnel involved in 31 January firing on the protesters leading to the death of two youths in Dimapur, and that Zeliang steps down.
The Nagaland government had fulfilled the demand of Nagaland Tribes Action Committee (NTAC) Kohima and Joint Coordination Committee (JCC), declaring the entire process of Urban Local Bodies election with 33 percent 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.
The government continued to shut down internet and mobile data service to stop the spread of rumours through social networking sites.
With inputs from agencies
Published Date: Feb 20, 2017 10:53 am | Updated Date: Feb 20, 2017 10:53 am