Meet Neiphiu Rio – the man who made Nagaland elections interesting

Nagaland election result 2018: Neiphiu Rio, three-time chief minister of Nagaland tried hard to head the north-eastern state once again.

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Nagaland election result 2018: The BJP had announced Neiphiu Rio as the alliance's Chief Minister candidate much before the elections. (Photo: PTI)

Nagaland election result 2018: Neiphiu Rio, three-time chief minister of Nagaland tried hard to head the north-eastern state once again. Rio, who founded a new party – Nationalist Progressive Democratic Party (NPDP) – had entered into a pre-poll alliance with Bharatiya Janata Party. The BJP had announced Rio as the alliance’s Chief Minister candidate much before the elections. On his part, Rio had resigned from parliament, exuding confidence that he can win the elections. Rio’s hold on his constituency can be understood from the fact that he was declared winner unopposed from Northern Angami-II – a very rare sight in legislative elections.

Rio was first elected to Nagaland Legislative Assembly on a Congress (I) candidate from the Northern Angami-II constituency in 1989. Later, he was appointed as the Minister for Sports and School Education, and then as Minister for Higher & Technical Education and Art & Culture.

Rio later served as Chairman, Nagaland Khadi & Village Industries Board, Nagaland Industrial Development Corporation, and Development Authority of Nagaland. In 1993, Rio was once again elected to the state legislative assembly from the same Constituency in 1993 as Congress (I) candidate and appointed as Minister for Works & Housing. He also served as Nagaland’s Home Minister as part of the cabinet headed by SC Jamir from 1998 till 2002. In 2002, he resigned from the ministry accusing Chief Minister SC Jamir of blocking a negotiated settlement of the vexed Naga issue.

Today, Rio, who first became state CM in 2003, is described as the tallest political figure in Nagaland by many. Rio had founded Naga People’s Front (NPF), a party he has now dejected, in 2003. Again, in 2018, he joined Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP), a group founded by his backing.

Fighting elections in the alliance, Rio contested on 40 seats in the 60-member assembly, while the BJP fielded their candidates on the remaining 20 seats. His strategy to form a new party and fight elections in alliance with the BJP just failed short of being a masterstroke. Rio was almost successful in his bid to win the elections and becoming the chief minister.

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