Nagaland is likely to have a new chief minister, with the political crisis gripping the state showing no signs of easing up anytime soon. Chief Minister TR Zeliang's address to the state on Monday, through an appeal on All India Radio, has failed to lift the indefinite bandh being called by tribal bodies in Nagaland.
But despite the chief minister urging normalcy return to the state, all government offices in Nagaland remained closed, as civil society groups stood resolute in their demand of Zeliang's resignation. "The agitators have locked government offices and the keys are with them. None of the offices have opened again. The government machinery has completely broke down," said a government official on condition of anonymity.
The civil society groups and tribal bodies have come out with a press release, lashing out at Zeliang and saying his "trickery is hoodwinking the public". A Joint Coordination Committee, a common platform comprising all the tribal bodies of the state, said in its release: "The statement by the Chief Minister, TR Zeliang, that he went ahead with the ULB election after holding 14 consultative meetings, is another trickery to hoodwink the public. The fact of the matter is after 14 times futile consultation meetings, and unable to arrive at a consensus, the government decided to go ahead with the ULB election without the consent of the people."
It also reiterates that it will intensify its agitation till Zeliang steps down on moral grounds. It held him responsible for the "complete failure" of the state machinery, saying loss of three lives during the agitation are down to his administration, and hence he must take responsibility for it and step down to pave way for normalcy.
Vichutuolie Mere, president of the Chakhroma Public Organisation, a tribal body part of the agitating groups, told Firstpost, "The chief minister is avoiding the real issues because of political agenda. He is just trying to fool the public. But people are not going to accept his appeal."
Winds of change in the ruling party
The statewide bandh has also kickstarted speculation about the direction the state is headed in and the possibility of new leadership, as it is seen as the only way to bring back normalcy.
Sources in the ruling Naga People's Front said that some of the party's MLAs are also of the opinion that NPF chairperson Shurhozelie Liezietsu should be the next chief minister, since he is the head of the party. "We have also started a signature campaign among party MLAs to elect the chairperson of the party as the chief minister. So far, more than 25 MLAs have signed supporting him." the source said.
However, KG Kenye, NPF secretary general, told Firstpost that the present situation is not a crisis. "This is just another normal problem which the state government faces from time to time. It is unfortunate that we have landed in this situation over the reservation policy," he said.
He also said that the party has not taken any decision so far and has left it to the legislators. "The party will not venture into the issue which the government and the legislators are trying to sort out amicably with civil society groups. Only if they express an inability to take any decision will the party step in," he added.
When asked if some MLAs are of the view that Liezietsu should be the next chief minister, he said, "We cannot rule speculation out. Maybe this too is speculation like that."
But no signature campaign to elect the chairperson as the chief minister is going on, he clarified: "There are reports that the chief minister has confined some of the party's MLAs in a hotel fearing that they might be persuaded to withdraw support."
But KG Kenye calls these reports "absolutely unfounded". Nagaland is reeling under political crisis for the last fortnight after the state government went ahead with municipal polls including 33 percent reservation for women on 1 February, despite stringent protests from tribal bodies.
On 7 February, amid a statewide bandh called after the death of three persons, the tribal bodies gave three days' ultimatum to Zeliang to resign. Zeliang appealed to the tribal bodies through a radio message to lift the ban and let normalcy return. But the failure to meet the desired results of sorting out the political crisis only means that a political change is imminent in Nagaland.
Updated Date: Feb 16, 2017 15:48 PM