Naga People’s Front (NPF) legislator Y.M Yollow Konyak was sworn in as Nagaland minister on Wednesday, five months after all the ruling and opposition parties in the state came together to form India’s first opposition-less government to take forward the Naga political issue between the Centre and Naga outfits and various other groups.
Assam and Nagaland Governor Prof Jagdish Mukhi administered the oath of office and secrecy to Konyak at a simple ceremony at the Dr Imkongliba Ao Hall in Raj Bhavan in Kohima.
Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio, his cabinet colleagues, United Democratic Alliance Chairman T.R. Zeliang, senior civil and security officials were present in the swearing-in-ceremony, which was conducted by Chief Secretary J. Alam.
Following the death of the then Forest and Environment Minister C.M. Chang of the ruling Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP) in October 2020, one cabinet berth had been lying vacant.
The NPF was the only opposition party in Nagaland and in September last year, in a significant development, had formed the UDA in alliance with the ruling NDPP and its ally Bharatiya Janata Party and two Independent MLAs.
Meanwhile, NPF legislature party leader Zeliang has been appointed as the new UDA Chairman, replacing Rio in the post.
Nagaland government spokesman and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Neiba Kronu said that Zeliang would enjoy the status of a cabinet minister.
In the 60-member assembly, the NDPP has 21 MLAs, the NPF 25, the BJP 12, and two are Independents.
The NDPP and the BJP had an alliance before the 2018 Assembly elections.
In July last year, opposition NPF proposed an all-party government to unitedly push for an early solution to the Naga political issue and the opposition-less all party government was announced in September last year
With Wednesday’s induction, the 12-member ministry now has four ministers from the NDPP, six ministers from the BJP and one Independent MLA.
The latest political development comes after almost all the parties in the northeastern state came together and formed the Core Committee on Naga Political Issue (CCoNPI) led by Rio on June 16 last year.
Nagaland Congress leaders said that the decision of the opposition NPF to join the Chief Minister Rio-led government “on the pretext of Naga political issue” is an insult to the people of the state, as they fought the 2018 Assembly polls against the BJP.
The Central government has been separately holding peace talks with the Isak-Muivah faction of the National Socialist Council of Nagalim (NSCN-IM) and eight other outfits, which came together a few years ago under the banner of ‘Naga National Political Groups’ (NNPGs). The NSCN-IM and other outfits entered into a ceasefire agreement with the Centre in 1997 and in the subsequent years, held more than 85 rounds of talks with the government since then.