Dr. Shürhozelie wins by-election
Kohima, August 3 (EMN): Recently ousted chief minister and president of ruling Naga People’s Front (NPF), Dr. Shürhozelie Liezietsu defeated independent candidate Kekhrie Yhome by a margin of 3470 votes to win the by-election to 10th Northern Angami-I assembly constituency.
Liezietsu accumulated a total 8038 votes to retain the assembly seat he had held for 8 tenures prior to 2013 general elections.
New political entrant Yhome garnered 4568 votes while 72 voters opted for neither candidates (NOTA) and one vote was rejected.
Following the counting of votes and declaration of the winner of the by-poll, deputy commissioner and returning officer Rajesh Soundararajan handed over the certificate of election to Liezietsu.
Liezietsu has won the election in a straight contest but the glitch that he still faces is that, the result of the by-election will be subject to the final outcome of Supreme Court ruling on the special leave petition filed by the Nagaland Pradesh Congress Committee (NPCC). The apex court had on July 28 directed a notice to the Election Commission of India that the result of the election would be subject to the final outcome of the instant special leave petition.
The by-election to 10th Northern Angami-I AC was necessitated following the resignation of sitting MLA Khriehu Liezietsu in May, so that his father and the then chief minister Dr. Shürhozelie Liezietsu, who was not an elected member, could contest and become a validated member of the state assembly. Liezietsu senior had become the chief minister in February 2017 replacing TR Zeliang following the ULB issue, only to be ousted by the latter on July 19 last.
This win is the biggest victory in my life: Liezietsu
Addressing party workers at a thanksgiving programme at his residence following his win, Dr. Shürhozelie Liezietsu said in his political journey, he had fought 11 electoral battles, lost 2 and won 9, but he considered the victory in this by-poll as the biggest victory in his life.
Maintaining that it was a tough fight, he told his supporters, “All the tall leaders in Nagaland, all the money giants or the heavyweight politicians fought against us…… 47 MLAs including all the heavyweights within and outside went against us, including the Governor… So I consider this victory is not an ordinary one. This is not my victory alone but it is a victory of all of us”.
In a likely clarification to the recent statement of the legislators who are part of the current government under TR Zeliang regarding the freezing of the party’s cock symbol in 1998, Liezietsu said that year the party had responded to the call of the Naga Hoho for “solution, not election” and boycotted the election. Due to non-participation in the election, the ECI had derecognised the NPF party and freezed the party symbol, he pointed out. He also stated that in the following year in 1999, he decided to contest in the MP election and by then the Congress had a full house with SC Jamir as the chief minister. He said he knew that he was not going to return but contested to put on trial if the party would regain its recognition and its symbol. Party people worked hard and managed to pull 32% votes whereas the required percentage was only 6, and automatically the party got back its recognition and symbol, he added.
Liezietsu also pointed out that the dissident NPF MLAs under chief minister TR Zeliang were making desperate moves, including appointing an expelled party MLA (Zeliang) as the chief whip. He said the MLAs have flouted procedures and appointed Zeliang as the NPF chief whip, and ‘by force’ the latter issued whip in the assembly, and all the 36 members voted for him.
“Their voting will disqualify themselves. We are waiting for August 5,” Liezietsu said, referring to the ‘last calling notice’ issued by the party to the MLAs. “Whether we like it or not, if they realise their mistake and want to come back, we want to give everybody another chance. But if they don’t turn up, they know very well that all of them will be disqualified,” he asserted.
He informed the gathering that regarding the whip issue, a case has been filed in the Gauhati High Court Kohima Bench. “Their intention is, within these three weeks, they will try to do some mischief. But I think time will prove whether their decision is right or wrong,” the veteran regionalist stated.
He also informed that another case has been filed in the Supreme Court on the dismissal of his government ‘out of the way, without following any rules’. “Governor was so anxious to dismiss my government and so, without giving us time, the government was dismissed,” he recalled.
Liezietsu also alleged that some of the ‘previous NPF leaders’ have made secret pact with the saffron party (BJP) that after establishing the government, they would “hijack the party to BJP like what they have done in Arunachal Pradesh”. He said many of them (NPF leaders) were aware that Naga people may not be very friendly with BJP so they were not willing to join openly but inside ‘they are already there’ and that it was now up to the Naga people what stand they will take.
On the NPF severing ties with the BJP, Dr. Shürhozelie said the NPF decided to part ways with BJP “because of their unconstitutional actions”. He however clarified that the NPF is still a member of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA). He recounted that the cock party has been with the Janata party since 1977, therefore, a member of NDA with effect from 1977.
“As far as NDA membership is concerned, BJP is junior to us, we are senior to BJP. BJP came into being only in 1982,” Liezietsu pointed out, adding that though the party had severed its ties with BJP, it was still with the other component group of the NDA including NCP and JDU.
NPF will return with majority in 2018
Dr. Shürhozelie Liezietsu has expressed confidence that NPF will return with majority to form the government in 2018 as it was the only political party which is deeply rooted with the society, representing the personality and identity of the Naga people.
He said NPF opponents wanted to set up a new party but they were finding it difficult to get it registered, and if they failed to register with the ECI, their candidates will have to contest as independents, provided they fail in their attempts borrow a political party from Meghalaya as well. Considering this, and reiterating that the Congress era was long gone in the state and with the BJP being alone now, he said, NPF remains the ‘only alternative’ party to make a comeback in the forthcoming assembly elections.
Towards this, he called upon party men and women to sit together and begin planning very seriously. He also advised all the divisions to be serious on the issue and work out to select candidates in consultation with the church too for the assembly polls. While assuring for a peaceful government after 2018 election, he said the party must try to “defeat naughty people” who have been creating problems during the last month.
Meanwhile, on his victory in the by-election, Liezietsu thanked his son Khriehu and his constituency unit leaders and voters, the 11 MLAs who stood by him during the recent and ongoing political turmoil, NPF central office bearers, NPF divisions and frontal organisations for their support.