The latest spat between two factions of the Naga People’s Front involves allegations of impersonation. The faction led by Shurozelie Liezietsu (pictured above) levelled the charges against Neiphiu Rio, former Nagaland chief minister and currently a Lok Sabha member.
Rio, according to the Liezietsu faction, had passed himself off as the president of the Naga People’s Front at the North East Democratic Alliance conclave in Delhi on September 5. This was impersonation, according to the rival faction, because Liezietsu is, in fact, their president.
In a colourful press release put out on Wednesday night from the Naga People’s Front central headquarters, the Liezietsu faction condemned Rio’s “sheer audacity”. It was “shameless and unmitigated insolence”, the press release said, adding that it was also “obnoxious, revolting and incredible”.
“After demitting the office of the Chief Minister in 2014, the former Chief Minister appears to have been suffering from an endless bout of delirium replete with hallucination with a large dose of fantasy added regularly,” it concluded. The release reminded readers that Liezietsu was president of the Naga People’s Front, so far as the party and the Election Commission of India were concerned.
This, too, was an unambiguous reference to Rio,who had been suspended in 2016 for alleged “anti-party activities”. In May this year, the Democratic Progressive Party had been floated in Nagaland. Though Chingwang Konyak was appointed as president it was widely believed to have been marshalled by Rio.
The Naga People’s Front has seen rampant infighting in its current tenure in government, with four changes in chief minister in three years. In February this year, the incumbent chief minister, TR Zeliang had been forced to step down after protests over the representation for women in urban local body elections and was replaced by Liezietsu.
In July, upheavals within the party compelled Liezietsu to resign and Zeliang was back in the chief minister’s chair. The change of guard has split the party down the middle, with Rio backing Zeliang’s faction and considered closer to the Bharatiya Janata Party. The two factions have now placed their rival claims to represent the party before the court.