The decision of MLA Khriehu Lezietsü to resign from the Nagaland Legislative Assembly has put to rest the many speculations that were doing the rounds since the incumbent chief minister who took office in February was not a member of the NLA. When former chief minister T R Zeliang was made to step down due to the public outcry against the ULBs elections in the state and also over the killings of some protestors, the ruling Democratic Alliance of Nagaland was forced to elect Dr. Shurhozelie Lezietsü as the Leader of the House although he was not a member of the NLA. Therefore he is by law required to seek election to the NLA within the 6 months period gets over in August. This has led to his son paving way and resigning from the NLA as the MLA from Northern Angami II Assembly Constituency so that the chief minister can seek election from the same constituency when the election commission announces the bye-election.
It is still not certain whether the Election Commission of India will announce the bye-election since the remaining tenure of the NLA is less than a year and there are chances that the state assembly elections will be preponed, with a caretaker chief minister in office. However if the bye-election is announced then the only spanner in the works of the Naga People’s Front Party will be if some of the other political parties field their candidates. The political scenario in the state is currently completely divided into two major blocs and more, it will be a though election for the chief minister. The chances of the NPF dissidents assisting the opponents, though covertly, is also very likely.
The chief minister as the president of single largest party and the chairman of the DAN alliance had done his best to keep the flock together when the previous chief minister was faced with crisis after crisis due to dissidence within the party. He effectively used the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution known popularly as the Anti-defection Law to control and discourage any move for defection by his party MLAs. However the current tenure witnessed two major mergers, that of the 3 NCP MLAs to BJP and the 8 Congress MLAs to NPF party. Still it did not guarantee stability for the government that ultimately resulted in the President of the NPF party becoming the chief minister. Although the NPF party seems confident and decisive with elections round the corner, whether it’s the bye-election or the state assembly elections in early 2018, the party has to realise that the Tenth Schedule is simply ineffective during elections.
The change of guard that happened after the former chief minister Neiphiu Rio vacated his seat for the lone Lok Sabha seat from the state left many of the senior MLAs of the NPF party at the receiving end. With many young MLAs and first timers getting plumb berths in the cabinet, the old timers considered them as usurpers although they were of the same party. Some of these seniors MLAs have been recently inducted as a last ditch effort to save the government and garner public support and probably with the elections in mind. However, the current chief minister giving his seat to one of the seniors like Kaito, Imkong and Kuzholuzo(Azo) is most unlikely. At the end, the real test for the chief minister and the party president, whether he has popularly support and can keep the flock together without the help of the Tenth Schedule will be witnessed.