The internal crisis within the ruling Naga People's Front (NPF) government in Nagaland has further deepened with Chief Minister Shurhozelie Liezietsu sacking 10 of his parliamentary secretaries following a demand for his removal, an official said on Sunday. The development comes as former Chief Minister T.R. Zeliang on Saturday wrote to Governor P.B. Acharya and staked claim to form a new government. He claimed he has the support of 33 NPF legislators and seven Independent legislators.
In the wake of the demand for his removal, Liezietsu, who is also the NPF supremo, terminated four NPF legislators and six Independent legislators, as parliamentary secretaries.
The Nagaland government issued notifications terminating the appointment of Zeliang as Advisor (Finance) and Nuklotoshi as Advisor to Chief Minister.
Apart from sacking the legislators, the NPF Disciplinary Action Committee which met on Saturday also suspended ten legislators as primary and active members of the party.
Those suspended include Home Minister Yanthungo Patton, Power Minister Kipili Sangtam, National Highway and Political Affairs Minister G. Kaito Aye, Forest and Environment Minister Imkong L. Imchen, besides, Shetoyi, Nuklutoshi, Deo Nukhu, Naiba Konyak, Benjongliba and former Chief Minister Zeliang.
Zeliang along with 41 legislators are camping at Borgos resort in Kaziranga National Park in Assam to discuss the transition of power.
"All 41 of us are intact and we are waiting only for Governor Acharya to invite Zeliang to form the government," Forest and Environment Minister Imkong L. Imchen told IANS.
"We don't care about (suspension from the party) it because those people who have signed the suspension order do not have the grassroots support," Imchen said, while refusing to divulge further.
Governor Acharya is in Maharashtra and he is expected to return to Nagaland in a few days.
The fresh political instability has come at a time when Liezietsu is gearing up for the July 29 by-election from the Northern Angami-I assembly constituency.
Liezietsu has however voiced confidence that the crisis within the NPF would be resolved at the earliest.
Liezietsu was sworn in as Chief Minister on February 22 this year after Zeliang resigned following violent protest by tribal groups who were opposed to his move to hold civic polls with 33 per cent reservation for women.
The Chief Minister said that he was deeply pained by the recent disturbing developments affecting the normal functioning of the government.
"The current issue is within the NPF party and will be resolved at the earliest to bring about normalcy in the state. The mandate of the people will be respected and the present crisis will be resolved in the larger interest of the people of the state," Liezietsu stated.
Noting that the NPF-led government will complete its full term, the beleaguered Chief Minister appealed to the people of the state to remain calm.
In his letter to Governor Acharya, Zeliang said "The legislators also urged the present Chief Minister Shurhozelie Liezietsu, who is a non-legislator, to resign and pave way for me (Zeliang) to take over as the Chief Minister."
Claiming support of 34 (including himself) out of the 47 NPF legislators, he also told Acharya that seven Independent legislators have also affirmed their support in his favour.
The legislators wanted him to continue as leader of NPF legislature party and also authorised him to stake claim to form a new NPF-led Democratic Alliance of Nagaland government.
In the truncated 59-member assembly, the ruling Democratic Alliance of Nagaland coalition government comprises 47 NPF legislators, including ten suspended, four Bharatiya Janata Party and eight Independents.
Interestingly, Zeliang has even warmed up to his once bitter rival Neiphiu Rio, a three-time Nagaland Chief Minister.
Rio, the lone Lok Sabha member from Nagaland, was suspended a couple of years back for "anti-party activities", particularly against Zeliang.