Nagaland Chief Minister T.R. Zeliang on Saturday inducted six new members in his Cabinet, ahead of the assembly elections in February-March 2018. Governor P.B. Acharya administered the oath of office and secrecy to Naga People’s Front (NPF) legislators P. Longon, C.L. John, Vikheho Swu, S.I. Jamir and Kuzholuzo Nienu and Bharatiya Janta Party’s P. Paiwang at a simple ceremony at the Raj Bhavan here. The reshuffle came after Zeliang sacked six Cabinet ministers following reconciliation by two NPF factions led by Shurhozelie Liezietsu’s and Zeliang on December 8. Those sacked were Home Minister Y. Patton, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Tokheho Yepthomi, Roads and Bridges Minister Nicky Kire, Environment and Forest Minister Neiba Kronu, Rural Development Minister E.E. Pangteang, and Geology and Mining Minister Mmhonlumo Kikon (BJP).
A NPF ledear said the sacking was aimed to pave way for induction of Liezietsu’s loyalists in the Cabinet following signing of a memorandum of reconciliation, as per which the warring NPF groups were to patch up to provide stability to Nagaland polity and strengthen party unity. The Chief Minister said 28 legislators had advised him to reconcile with Liezietsu since protection of party’s ‘cock’ poll symbol from a freeze was of foremost importance. On Friday, NPF supremo Liezietsu revoked the expulsion of 20 NPF legislators and suspension of 13 other party leaders, including Nagaland’s lone Lok Sabha member Neiphiu Rio. The NPF had expelled Zeliang and others for six years, soon after Zeliang was sworn in again as the Chief Minister on July 19.