Nagaland Chief Minister TR Zeliang on Sunday announced that he had decided to step down from his office, ANI reported. Zeliang further said a “new consensus leader” would be selected by his party, the Nagaland People’s Front, on Monday. Protesting tribal groups have been asking for Zeliang’s resignation since his government decided to reserve 33% seats for women in civic polls.
Sunday evening’s development came came even as the Democratic Alliance of Nagaland, the coalition the NPF is a part of, called a legislature party meeting at 11 am on Monday to discuss the issue. Zeliang’s resignation comes after 42 NPF legislators signed a memorandum seeking his removal from the post. The MLAs have recommended Shurhozelie Liezietsu’s name for the top post. He is the chairman of the DAN government, which also comprises the Bharatiya Janata Party. The NPF has 48 MLAs in the 60-member state Assembly. Other reports have suggested that the next chief minister might be the state’s lone MP, Neiphiu Rio.
Protesting tribal groups had told the legislators to resign by Friday or face the consequences in the next Assembly polls. The groups spearheading the protest in the state include the Nagaland Tribes Action Committee and Joint Coordination Committee.
On February 2, members of tribal groups went on a rampage to demand that the state government roll back the reservation for women. The civic polls were called off after two protestors were killed in police firing. Protests intensified after Zeliang refused to resign from his post following the killings. Protestors vandalised government property and set vehicles on fire in the city. The Kohima Municipal Council building, Regional Transport office and the Excise Department office were destroyed by the angry mob. Five Army columns were deployed in the city.
Civic polls in the state have been held up since 2004 on the issue of 33% reservation for women, mandated by Article 243 (T) of the Constitution. Tribal groups have held that the reservations interfere with Naga customary laws and protections guaranteed to them under Article 371(A) of the Constitution.