Kohima, July 19 (IANS) Senior Naga People’s Front (NPF) legislator T.R. Zeliang was sworn in as Nagaland’s 19th Chief Minister on Wednesday, hours after Governor P.B. Acharya dismissed Shurhozelie Liezietsu after he failed to prove his majority in the Assembly.
Acharya administered the oath of office and secrecy to the 65-year-old Zeliang in a ceremony at the Raj Bhavan here. Zeliang will have to prove his majority in the House on or before July 22.
The new Chief Minister will announce his council of ministers after the floor test.
This is the second time Zeliang will be the Chief Minister after he resigned following violent protest by tribal groups opposed to his move to hold civic polls with 33 per cent seats reserved for women.
Liezietsu, 80, was made to come out of retirement from electoral politics to take over as Chief Minister following Zeliang’s resignation.
Acharya dismissed the government under Clause (I) of Article 164 of the Constitution after receiving a letter from Assembly Speaker Imtiwapang Aier on Liezietsu’s failure to prove his majority in the Assembly.
Liezietsu did not attend the Assembly session convened at 9.30 a.m. for the purpose of testing his legislative majority.
“Forty-eight legislators (including Speaker) attended the session. Therefore, it is clear that Liezietsu has failed to obtain the vote of confidence despite repeated opportunities given for the same,” the Governor said.
The Governor had on July 11 and 13 told Liezietsu to seek a vote of confidence on or before July 15.
Liezietsu, a non-elected member to the 60-member House, had the support of 10 NPF legislators and an Independent member.
Zeliang, who staked claim to form a new government, was in the House with his supporters — 35 NPF and four BJP legislators besides seven Independent members.
“No time (for the floor test) was given to us. How can we attend the Assembly session when most of us are not even in Kohima, and that too the Assembly session was summoned at midnight (Tuesday night),” said Yitachu, a spokesperson for Liezietsu’s group.
“We don’t understand the urgency of summoning the Assembly session since the ongoing political development is an internal matter within the NPF party and the matter should be resolved outside the House,” Yitachu told IANS.
However, Tokheho Yepthomi, spokesperson for Zeliang’s group, told IANS that Liezietsu should have gracefully stepped down rather than refusing to prove his majority in the House.
In the 60-member Assembly, one seat is vacant. The ruling Democratic Alliance of Nagaland coalition has 47 NPF legislators, four Bharatiya Janata Party members and eight Independents.
The rebellion in the ruling coalition erupted when a section of the NPF accused Liezietsu of indulging in nepotism by appointing his son Khriehu Liezietsu as his advisor with cabinet status to enable him (Lieziestsu) to contest and enter the assembly in order to continue as Chief Minister.
But Khriehu Liezietsu declined the appointment to be an advisor to his father.
Liezietsu had filed his nomination paper as NPF nominee for contesting the July 29 by-election from Northern Angami-I assembly constituency.