The Bharatiya Janata Party on Tuesday said it would support Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party leader Neiphiu Rio as the chief ministerial candidate of Nagaland, ANI reported. Union Minister JP Nadda said 12 BJP MLAs had submitted a letter to Nagaland Governor Padmanabha Acharya backing Rio’s candidature.

The NDPP won 18 seats in the Nagaland Assembly elections, while the Naga People’s Front bagged 26 seats. Besides the BJP legislators, one Janata Dal (United) MLA and one independent MLA have also pledged support to form the government, taking the alliance beyond the majority mark of 31 in the 60-member Legislative Assembly.

Nagaland Chief Minister TR Zeliang had on Sunday refused to resign, saying that his party, the Naga People’s Front, should form an alliance with the BJP. The Nagaland governor on Sunday gave both Rio and Zeliang 48 hours to present signatures affirming the support of MLAs.

Legislators belonging to the National People’s Party and the NPF in Manipur on Monday released a letter they wrote to BJP National President Amit Shah in which they said that the saffron party should form an alliance with the two parties in Nagaland, similar to the one they had in Manipur. “Such a coalition government is likely to be more stable,” they added.

Assam minister Himanta Biswa Sarma met Rio on Monday in Kohima, and later told reporters that the BJP had decided to support him for the chief minister’s post, The Indian Express reported.