No question of Zeliang resigning at this juncture: NPF

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HT Correspondent

Dimapur, March 5: Even as preparations for the swearing in ceremony for NDPP-BJP alliance government in Nagaland are underway in Kohima local ground, the Naga People’s Front (NPF) made it clear that when efforts are on to cobble up the requisite numbers to form the government, the question of Nagaland chief minister TR Zeliang resigning at this juncture does not arise.

The NPF Central Headquarters Kohima issued a statement on Monday dubbing news headlines appearing in both print and electronic media as “erroneous” or “malicious” which portrayed the chief minister as “desperately” clinging on to the chair and “refusing to resign”. This has projected him in a very poor light, the NPF lamented. Zeliang is the NPF chief ministerial candidate.

“After his party, the Naga People’s Front, has emerged as the single largest majority, and at the same time, had earlier submitted to the governor pre-poll alliance letters with its allies the NPP and the JD (U), the governor, in all fairness, had given him 48 hours to prove his majority,” it sought to point out.

“Technically, before a new chief minister is sworn-in the incumbent chief minister can continue as the caretaker,” it stated.

The NPF said incorrect and malicious news reporting should be avoided at all cost.

Reports said Prime Minister Narendra Modi is likely to attend the swearing-in ceremony of the new government.

However, governor PB Acharya has not issued any official statement as to who will form the government. The governor on Sunday gave 48 hours deadline to both Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP)-BJP chief ministerial candidate Neiphiu Rio and Zeliang to prove if they have the numbers to form the government. He said as a constitutional head he would call them whoever has the majority.

Claiming support of 32 MLAs, Rio accompanied by BJP national general secretary Ram Madhav met the governor at Raj Bhavan, Kohima at 11 am on Sunday to stake claim to form the next government. Lone JD (U) MLA G Kaito Aye and lone Independent MLA Tongpang Ozukum, who pledged support to NDPP-BJP alliance, were also present at the meeting.

Later on the day at 4 pm, Zeliang met the governor at 4 pm for nearly an hour. He told reporters on the counting day on March 3 that he is touch with central BJP leadership and was hopeful of forming the government.

The NPF won 26 seats while its pre-poll allies National People’s Party (NPP) begged two seats and JD(U) got one seat. But after the results were out, the JD(U) switched side and pledged support to NDPP-BJP alliance.

The NDPP emerged winner in 18 seats while its ally BJP won in 12 constituencies, taking their tally to 30, one short of magic number of 31 in the House of 60. With the support of JD(U) MLA and Independent lawmaker, total members in favour of NDPP-BJP alliance has gone up to 32.

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