Zeliang mulls merging with BJP

Zeliang mulls merging with BJP
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Kohima, March 5: Even as the NDPP-BJP alliance today struck a deal for smooth formation of a new Government with Neiphiu Rio as Chief Minister, a new scenario has emerged that might derail Rio’s ascendency to the CM’s chair.
Reports of incumbent chief minister TR Zeliang rushing to Delhi along with his loyalists has given rise to speculation that Zeliang along with most NPF elected members (Zeliang’s loyalists) are planning to merge with the BJP.
Unlike NPF president, Dr Shurhozelie Liezietsu who had made scathing attacks on BJP during the campaign trail, Zeliang, who always had a soft stand on the Lotus party, had not uttered a word against the BJP during his campaign. He had steadfastly maintained the NPF alliance with BJP even after the saffron party entered into a pre-poll seat sharing alliance with the NDPP.
With senior BJP leaders and NDPP’s Chief Ministerial candidate, Neiphiu Rio sealing a deal today, any chance of the BJP supporting NPF in formation of a Government is out of the question. However, the picture might possibly change if the BJP subscribe to the idea of Zeliang and his MLAs merging with the BJP and resulting in BJP alone forming a Government here.
If this happens, although improbable as it seems, then Neiphiu Rio will be again left high and dry. It would spell the end of the era of NPF for at least some years, while the stature of Rio in Nagaland politics would take a big hit.
NPF and BJP leaders have so far remained tight-lipped over the visit of Chief Minister Zeliang to Delhi. But going by the body language of the leaders of State unit of Lotus party they are not so excited about NPF leaders joining them. A senior BJP leader when contacted said they do not trust NPF leadership and that they are committed to the pre-poll agreement with the NDPP.
Speculations aside, as the BJP appears all set to form the Government with the NDPP, the imminent task before the NPF leadership is how to keep the party’s 26 elected members in line. It is understood that NDPP and BJP would further try to split the Cock party and MLAs, some of who will be averse to sit in the Opposition Bench for five years when elections are too expensive in the State.
The standing of NPF president Shurhozelie in the party might also come into question, considering that it was under his watch that the party broke ties with the BJP before the general election leading to the party failing to form the Government despite emerging as the single largest party with 26 MLAs.
While the NDPP-BJP led alliance is busy finalising for formation of the Government sources also informed that all is not well in the BJP camp over portfolios allocations. The party has 12 members but Mmhonlumo Kikon and P. Paiwang Konyak are two senior members and they are expecting to get better position in the new ministry. Former Home Minister, Y. Patton, who was elected today as the party’s legislature party leader is also hoping for top position in the Government.
JD(U) Member G. Kaito Ayeh and Independent Member Tongpang Ozukum are also likely to get cabinet berths. (Page News Service)