By Oken Jeet Sandham
When Chief Minister (CM) TR Zeliang met Governor PB Acharya on January 9 and submitted him a proposal to summon a Special Session of the Nagaland Legislative Assembly for “Trial of Strength” of his government, the picture of the ongoing “political crisis” within the ruling major NPF was clear that it was beyond its control.
The simmering leadership issue within the NPF legislature party has been going ever since Zeliang took over from Neiphiu Rio, and even high pitched dissenting voices kept coming out on the issue but none of them had such a proportion like the current one fast engulfing every institution in the state.
Leadership crisis in every political establishment used to happen. But when such crisis takes place, the polarization within the party occurs. There will be a lot of unwanted developments and the innocent common men, even within the same community, will also be sharply divided. Because, most of them normally listen to and are loyal to their own respective representatives who have been elected by them. In this way, social disturbances are bound to happen.
As soon as the news of the 22 dissident NPF MLAs camping at Sovima to replace Zeliang’s leadership flashed early this month, Zeliang’s boat started having a stormy journey. NPF has 38 MLAs in the house of 60. The situation began worsening when NPF president Dr Shurhozelie issued suspension order of 7 dissident NPF legislators, G Kaito Aye, Kuzholuzo (Azo) Nienu, Zhaleo Rio, Pukhayi, Pohwang Konyak, Shetoyi and Tovihoto, from the 22-member dissident group led by Kaito on January 5. This was followed by the dropping of them from the Zeliang ministry.
The suspension of 7 dissident NPF lawmakers did not stop the Kaito group from continuing the move. They even reasserted that their move was to replace the leadership in the NPF legislature party and not against the DAN government. They have 22 NPF MLAs while 15 NPF MLAs without Speaker are with Zeliang. After the suspension of 7 MLAs, Kaito’s strength has reduced to 15 but then subsequent suspension of 2 more NPF dissident MLAs, Noke Wangao and Imong L Imchen, on January 10, it has reduced to 13.
So, in the leadership crisis, when voting takes place to choose a new legislature party leader, the suspended MLAs will have no voting right except on the Floor of Assembly.
Now, the whole issue goes in different direction after the Kaito group called a Special Emergency Meeting of the NPF on January 12 and electing suspended senior regionalist Noke Wangnao as new president of the party. Soon after his election, all the suspended orders had been revoked and in a more dramatic manner, they had even suspended Dr Shurhozelie from the NPF. Now the media started using as “NPF led by Noke Wangnao” or “NPF led by Dr Shurhozelie” while filing their news, may be for clarity of the news.
The ongoing crisis within the NPF, if not resolved, will lead to constitutional breakdown, though Zeliang has already submitted a proposal to governor Acharya on January 9 for summoning a Special Session of Nagaland Legislative Assembly for “Floor Test.” Perhaps, the governor’s failure to give decisive response to the proposal, the Zeliang government might be compelled to call for a cabinet meeting. So the cabinet of the Zeliang government had its meeting on January 15, 2015 and finally recommended for “Trial of Strength” on January 20, 2015.
But the Kaito group has questioned the motive behind Zeliang’s move for “Floor Test” saying that their move was not to challenge his government but his leadership. Zeliang, however, explained that the “Trial of Strength” was the only option to solve the current crisis.
The governor is not only the head of the state but also the custodian of the Constitution. He is well equipped with Constitutional machineries that can solve the present political crisis in Nagaland. So far, he has not acted upon the crisis with these machineries. He might be holding series of consultations with constitutional experts before taking any measures but the government cannot be kept in suspense. Now it has been 13 days that both sides have been camping in two different locations.
Now that the Zeliang Cabinet has recommended for “Motion of Confidence” of his government on January 20, 2015, everyone starts eyeing on the governor.