DIMAPUR, May 10 � The current political scenario seems to have split the ruling NPF government and the party in Nagaland. Despite enjoying a clear majority, the tussle for the Chief Minister's chair by senior ministers TR Zeliang and Noke Konyak has created two camps in the ruling party.
Those supporting TR Zeliang are camped in Iora Resort in Kaziranga National Park. On May 7, they had a hurried meeting at Hotel Saramati in Dimapur which was attended by 14 MLAs and then proceeded to Kaziranga since there was a reservation for a wedding at Hotel Saramati. This was confirmed by the hotel management.
Meanwhile, those supporting Noke are all in Nagaland.
The problem in the NPF started when an opinion poll, which had shortlisted senior ministers Zeliang and Kaito G Aye as probable Chief Minister, was initiated by NPF president Dr Shurhozelie.
A signatory of the opinion poll informed this correspondent that Shurhozelie had assured them that the opinion poll was �top secret� and would not be revealed to anybody. �However, it was leaked out,� he said.
Later, a signature campaign favouring Zeliang was again initiated by the party functionaries called the Core Committee. The NPF president has set up a core committee to oversee the smooth transition of power once Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio gets elected to the Lok Sabha.
A senior legislator, who also signed in the signature campaign but had now withdrawn his signature, informed that the signatories are being threatened with disciplinary action and even expulsion if they withdrew their signatures. He also revealed that when he signed, he was informed that Noke was not in the race and that only Kaito and Zeliang were being considered.
Apparently, the leader of the legislature party and Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio was kept in the dark about the opinion poll and the signature campaign. The NPF core committee includes senior party functionaries, including the secretary general KG Kenye. The core committee does not include any elected member or the Chief Minister.
Another legislator, while interacting with this correspondent, said he has changed his opinion after coming to know that the Chief Minister was not informed by the party president about the opinion poll or the signature campaign.
The NPF has 38 MLAs. There are eight Independent members and two others belonging to BJP and JD(U). The NCP has four members and the Congress eight members.
A legislator belonging to the Noke camp claimed that several members in Zeliang's camp have changed their mind but are being threatened by the core committee with disciplinary action. �Legal experts have advised us that our opinion can change and we can withdraw our signatures anytime,� he said.
Another legislator stationed in Kohima, while speaking to this correspondent said, �The party can split or break apart if MLAs remain in two Opposing camps� it is unfortunate that a signature campaign and opinion poll was allowed to happen by the party functionaries themselves.�
A close aide of the Chief Minister, when contacted, said Rio favours a consensus and a democratic process and he has been saddened by the current scenario. He also informed that Rio had himself visited Dr Shurhozelie�s residence on May 7 and appealed to the veteran leader to work towards a consensus so that a smooth transition of power takes place after his departure.