After the 91st Amendment of the 10th Schedule of the Constitution of India in 2003 where merger of Political Parties with the support of 2/3 elected members is allowed so as not to affect disqualification of elected members, the State of Nagaland also has had its due share of history.
With the coming of the 91st Amendment of the Constitution of India the supremacy of the Political Party replaced the elected members’ supremacy.
By 2004, DAN-1 headed by Neiphiu Rio had almost doubled its numerical strength numbering to 32 by way of merging other parties with the NPF when 7 Congress MLAs, 2 JDU, 4 NDM merged with the 19 NPF MLAs. Due to downsizing in 2004, 19 NPF MLAs extended support to Z. Obed as the Chief Minister of Nagaland and only 13 MLAs including Neiphiu Rio were in the Government. However, Party President, Dr. Shürhozelie Liezietsu was solidly behind Neiphiu Rio. Z. Obed with 19 NPF MLAs was supported by 13 Congress MLAs, 1 MLA from NDM, 1 MLA from JDU and 3 Independent MLAs totalling 37 MLAs. The BJP having 7 Members was divided. The NPF MLAs who were with Z. Obed could not succeed because the Party Whip hung over their head like the proverbial Damocles’ Sword, and they eventually returned to the Party fold to support Neiphiu Rio.
In 2007, Tokheho took the initiative to topple Neiphiu Rio government and mastered the support of 13 NPF MLAs supported by 17 Congress MLAs, 2 JDU MLAs, 3 Independent MLAs and 1 BJP MLA totalling 36 MLAs. Although the UPA Government was there in the Centre it could not install Tokheho’s Government because the 13 MLAs were disqualified for going against the Whip. The 3 Independent MLAs along with others resigned to enforce President’s Rule. That year, 2007, the Congress party refused to celebrate Christmas and New Year unless President Rule was imposed! Eventually on 3rd January 2008 President Rule was imposed in Nagaland. This is all because the majority number has to be backed by law and the Constitution. Tokheho could not succeed inspite of the number because he did not have the support of the political party at that point of time, namely, the NPF.
In 2014, when Neiphiu Rio decided to contest the Lok Sabha Election the Party declared whoever commands the majority of the NPF MLAs shall become the Chief Minister to replace Rio. T.R. Zeliang had the support of 24 NPF MLAs, and Noke Wangnao was backed by then Chief Minister Rio by 14 MLAs. The Party gave letter of support to T. R. Zeliang and he was unanimously elected Leader of the Legislature Party in the State Banquet Hall over a meeting called by Neiphiu Rio who was then the Leader of the House and also the Leader of the Legislature Party.
On 5th January, 2015, 22 NPF Members Camped at Sovima and demanded the resignation of T.R.Zeliang. G. Kaito Aye inspite of the numerical majority could not move no confidence motion against the sitting Chief Minister T.R.Zeliang since both of them were from the same political party. The BJP, by then increased to 4 members with the merger of 3 NCP MLAs, extended support to Kaito Aye. The Congress was having 8 MLAs and G. Kaito Group offered even 4 Cabinet posts including Deputy Chief Minister tot he Congress party. The Congress MLAs knew that under anti-defection Law the 22 NPF MLAs can only vote against the Government and earn disqualification since the political party was with the minority Group of NPF MLAs headed by T.R.Zeliang. The 8 Congress MLAs and the 7 Independent MLAs chose to side with T.R. Zeling having the support of the NPF Party. Subsequently, 8 Congress MLAs merged with the NPF. The lone member of NCP and also of the JDU also merged with the NPF taking the total strength of NPF to 48.
In the present crisis 37 NPF MLAs who have voted against the Party Whip on 21st July, 2017 cannot escape disqualification under Para 2 (1)(b) of the 10th Schedule of the Constitution of India. Violation of the constitution by one MLA or any number of MLAs is the same and the number cannot escape disqualification in the absence of merger with another political party, which, in the instant case, did not happen.
The present government is unconstitutional and any unconstitutional government cannot function even for a day. The Chief Minister, Ministers, Advisors and Parliamentary Secretaries telling the citizens that even if it is unconstitutional they can delay the matter in the Court and run the Government, is nothing but a slap on the face of the Constitution of India. And if the Constitution of India is not made applicable to the state of Nagaland, the Governor P.B. Acharya shall be solely responsible and the Government of India at the Centre should disown the action of the Governor. He, the Governor, should be recalled as in the case of former Arunachal Pradesh Governor Rajkhowa, and the unconstitutional TR government dismissed without further delay so as to enhance confidence of the citizens of Nagaland in the Constitution of India.
Media & Press Bureau,
Naga People’s Front, Central Headquarters,
This Press Release was sent by NPF Bureau, who can be contacted at npfpressbureau(at)rediffmail(dot)com.