Much has been said, discussed and written on the ongoing political crisis in Nagaland. This statement tries to highlight as pointedly as possible the core points involved, for factual information of the esteemed citizens of the State.
There are two issues involved. One: Which NPF Party is the real NPF,- the one led by Dr.Shurhozelie Liezietsu or the other group led by Mr. Neiphiu Rio? Two: Is the present govt. under Mr. T R Zeliang a legitimate, legal and constitutional govt.,- boiling down to the fundamental issue of whose ‘Whip’ is the legal and constitutional one to have been allowed to be applied in the State Assembly to decide majority support of the MLAs?
The litmus test for the two core issues are the application or violation of the relevant provisions of two Constitutions,- that of the NPF and the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution of India. Let us recap the facts.
- Legal Status of the President and Current NPF Central Office Bearers(COB):
- The NPF is a political party registered with and recognized by the Election Commission of India (ECI).
Filing of the Party’s Constitution with the ECI is one of the mandatory, prerequisite conditions for the Party’s recognition by the ECI. Amendments to the Party’s Constitution, if any, are to be filed too with the ECI. In Party affairs, the Party Constitution has the force of law.
- The NPF Constitution, last amended on 9th February 2016 called, “ 8th Amendment to the Constitution”, is the legally instituted and prescribed “Guidebook” of the Party, to be followed in letter and spirit in all the functioning and decision-making processes of the Party. Any action or decision taken in the name of the NPF outside of, or in violation of relevant provisions of the NPF Constitution is illegal and ultra vires as far as the NPF is concerned.
- Was the NPF Constitution amended surreptitiously and illegally as alleged by the detractors? Consider the hard facts. The 8Th Amendment of the Constitution now in vogue was in pursuance of a decision taken by the NPF General Convention held on 26th November, 2014. In both the 7th and 8th amendment copies of the NPF Constitution, one of the specific powers vested in the Central Executive Council is :
“ To amend/repeal/alter the provisions of the various Schedules to the Constitution”. Then, very clearly, the Constitution stipulates:
“ A Central Executive Council(CEC) meeting must be convened at least once in a calendar year which may substitute a General convention in times of exigencies”.
When needed, the NPF CEC can decide issues in place of a General Convention! All it takes is to have the decision ratified in the next General Convention,-if required. In any case, the 8th Amendment of the NPF Constitution, approved by the CEC and notified on 9th February 2016 was already in place and in use long before the 36 NPF MLAs led by Mr. T R Zeliang and Mr. Niphiu Rio started stabbing the back of the constitutionally elected NPF President in 2017, calling their benefactor all sorts of names.
Secondly, as alleged by thedissident NPF MLAs, did the Party President Dr. Shurhozelie Liezietsuever act or take decisions in Party matters in a dictatorial or authoritarian manner that precipitated their revolt against him? The NPF is a democratic Party and its Constitution was adopted democratically. Within this Party Constitution, is the President required to act and decide issues as per its provisions, or should he resort to extraneous considerations outside the Constitution, such as so-called, ‘democratic norms’, ‘principles of natural justice’ etc. in violation of the clear constitutional provisions? We challenge the detractors to point out specific instances of violation of the provisions of the NPF Constitution by the President. Resorting to cheap rhetoric without any substance or clear evidence by the dissident MLAs simply to mislead the public is indeed not only unfortunate but is highly deplorable.
- The constitution and modality for election of the Party COB, headed by the President, are clearly prescribed in the NPF Constitution, under Article iv 2.a),b),c); 5.a),b),c) and 6. b), read with Article xii B.7. After observing the due process as prescribed by the NPF Constitution, they are to be elected in a General Convention by the Active Members(only) of the Party, present and voting.
- In the instant case, the COB, headed by Dr. Shurhozelie Liezietsu as President, were elected unanimously by the NPF Active Members (5221) in the General Convention held on 26th November, 2014 for a 5-year term tenure. After the ‘Sovima Crisis”, in the General Convention that followed on 30th April 2015, this position was re-affirmed. Relevant Party file records, newspaper clippings, photographs and video recordings will bear witness to the authenticity of the decisions taken in the Conventions. No General Convention of the NPF took place thereafter. As such, legally and factually, the validity of the COB with Dr. Shurhozelie Liezietsu as President of the NPF continues.
- Legal Status of 36 MLAs electing ‘Interim President” etc of the so-called NPF:
- 36 MLAs, claiming to be in majority, ‘elected’ an “Interim President” of the NPF and eventually made him the ‘President’ of the NPF in place of the duly and legally elected President, Dr. Shurhozelie Liezietsu. Of those 36 MLAs, 22 including Mr. T R Zeliang were expelled from the NPF Party and as such, for the purpose of Party functioning, do not belong to the NPF fold anymore. In Party affairs, they cannot participate or claim to represent the NPF Party in any manner whatsoever. Of the remaining 14 MLAs, 10 were suspended from the Party’s Primary and Active Membership, and so do not have any voting rights or decision-making power within the NPF Party. Also, the Hon’ble MLAs still in the NPF should not forget that within the NPF Party, each of them has one vote only!
- It is truly preposterous and ludicrous, to say the least, that those 36 MLAs in the name of majority Legislators had the audacity to subsume and appropriate for themselves the authority and powers of the NPF General Convention and army of Active Members, in flagrant violation of NPF Constitution to ‘appoint’ Mr. Neiphiu Rio, another suspended member of the NPF, as the NPF President and ‘invest’ him with extra-constitutional powers to summon the NPF CEC meeting and General Convention, as if the NPF Constitution and the duly constituted Party organization did not exist at all. And all this, in place of the legally and constitutionally elected President of the NPF Party, Dr. Shurhozelie Liezietsu and the COB, in a flagrant attempt to stage a coup d’e-tat.
- Whether a Split or Merger Has Taken Place in the NPF:
Going by the provisions of the 10th Schedule of the Indian Constitution and relevant stipulations as laid down in the NPF Constitution, and looking at their actions so far, neither a splitnor a merger with some other political party, as of now, appears to bethe intention of the 36 MLAs and Mr. Neiphiu Rio. What they do want is to oust lock stock and barrel the duly elected and constituted COB headed by Dr. Shurhozelie Liezietsu, occupy the NPF House and snatch the NPF Cock symbol by any Machiavellianmeans possible at whatever the cost. Clearly, this is political laissez-faire of a most unprecedented magnitude.
- What do those with the True and valid NPF Constitutional Powers Say?
The relevant details of actual roll of the Members of the Central Executive Council and valid Active Members of the NPF across the board are all in the Party Central Office. The records show without a shadow of doubt that the overwhelming majority of the CEC Members and Active Members of the Party are solidly with the true and original NPF led by Dr. Shurhozelie Liezietsu.
- Constitutional and Legal Validity of Appointment of Party Legislature Chief Whip:
- Without going into the manipulative circumstances leading to the installation and unconstitutional continuance of Mr. T R Zeliang as Chief Minister, and purely on the point of law in force, paragraph 2(1)(b) of the Tenth Schedule of the Indian Constitution explicitly underlines that ‘direction’ issued to the legislators to cast their votes in the House in a certain manner as decided by the Party is given by the Political Party to which they belong, and not by the Legislators themselves. Such ‘direction’ from the Political Party is issued through a ‘Whip’ among the Legislators appointed by the Political Party. If an MLA votes or abstains from voting in the House contrary to the ‘direction’ without prior permission of the Party, or if he has voluntarily given up his membership of his Political Party, then he will face the consequence of disqualification from his seat in the House(paragraph 2(1)(a)).
- In the instant case, on 21 July 2017 when Floor Test took place in the Assembly, Mr. Kiyanilie Peseyie was the constitutionally appointed Chief Whip of the NPF Legislature Party and the Party directive was issued through him to all the NPF MLAs. In blatant violation of the Constitutional provision, 36 dissident MLAs voted against the NPF Party directive given through its legally appointed Chief Whip. Obviously, it is just a matter of time before they eventually face the legal consequences for deliberately violating the Constitutional provision. Those 36 MLAs informed the Hon’ble Speaker that they had appointed Mr. T R Zeliang as Whip of the Legislature Party w.e.f. 4/7/2017. Once again, those 36 MLAs subsumed and appropriated for themselves the authority and power vested in the NPF Party by the Indian Constitution. Most astonishingly, the Hon’ble Speaker accepted the unconstitutional appointment of his own brother-in-law Mr. T R Zeliang as the Whip, rather than the standing appointment on 14th November 2014, of Mr. Kiyanilie Peseyie as Chief Whip in accordance to the Constitutional provision and Parliamentary procedure.
And so, Mr. T R Zeliang’s unconstitutional govt. continues to this day. But for how much longer? It surelyis just a matter of time. The house of cards built byMr. Neiphiu Rio and Mr. T R Zeliang, respectively as “President NPF Party” and Head of the Govt. of Nagaland will collapse and come tumbling down when the winds of justice begin to blow over them.
Member, CEC, NPF
This Press Release was sent by NPF Bureau, who can be contacted at npfpressbureau(at)rediffmail(dot)com