In a stalemate familiar to Nagaland politics, a former chief minister has staked claim to form the government, while the incumbent has refused to resign.
In a meeting on Sunday with governor PB Acharya, NDPP leader Neiphiu Rio claimed the support of 32 MLAs in a 60-member House. However, chief minister TR Zeliang, whose NPF emerged as the single-largest party with 26 seats, is learnt to be hoping that the BJP, with which he had an alliance until recently, may side with him.
On paper, the NDPP-BJP alliance has the numbers with the NDPP winning 18 seats, the BJP 12. This alliance also has the support of an independent and the lone JD(U) MLA.
While the results had first given the NDPP 17 seats and the NPF 27, chief electoral officer Abhijit Sinha confirmed that the ECI had directed to “cancel the wrong result in favour if Shri NR Zeliang due to wrong tabulation”. He said Namri Nchang of NDPP had won the Tening constituency seat by 168 votes.
On Sunday morning, Rio met Acharya along with BJP general secretary Ram Madhav. In the afternoon, in what was thought would be a meeting to tender his resignation, CM Zeliang met the governor to stake his claim. The governor has given both sides 48 hours to prove on paper that they have the numbers.
Central to the NPF’s hopes are two aspects: stability of the government in Manipur, and the strength of the government in Nagaland.
Sebastian Zumvu, senior NPF leader, said, “It is very obvious that we have four MLAs in Manipur who are part of the government. The CM is in talks with BJP, which is also divided on the subject. The NPF and BJP alone make up 38 seats… and NPP and JD(U), which are part of the umbrella North East Democratic Alliance, would make it 41, with possibly one independent. That is a far more stable government.”