Nagaland Elections 2018: Neiphiu Rio's Party May Be New, But Will The Result Be The Same?

Written By Ankit Prasad | Mumbai | Published:


  • Neiphiu Rio's meandering journey could end up leading to the desired destination on Saturday
  • Contesting with a new party and with the BJP as an ally, the former 3-time Nagaland chief minister could be set for another term
  • Rio has already won his seat as his opponent withdrew

Neiphiu Rio could be set to become the chief minister of Nagaland for the fourth time on Saturday - a remarkable feat in any circumstance, but even more so because of the political journey and machinations that have come before.

On February 22, Rio's resignation from the Lok Sabha was accepted by Speaker Sumitra Mahajan. He had occupied the state's only seat in the lower house of India's Parliament since the 2014 general elections, and significantly, he'd had to resign as chief minister of Nagaland to be able to do so. Before that, he had emerged victorious in three consecutive Assembly Elections with an 11-year run as chief minister.

Upon his 2014 resignation Neiphiu 's confidant and fellow Naga People's Front (NPF) leader, TR Zeliang, had taken up the top post as part of a coalition called the Democratic Alliance of Nagaland (DAN) in which the BJP was also a member. Over the course of the last few years, the coalition had run the state sans-Opposition, as 8 Congress legislators had also joined. 

However, with Rio re-entering state politics, the election battle has become partisan once again. He was surprisingly unable to come to an agreement with the NDF, a party he'd founded, and had instead entered into an alliance with the BJP which has similarly parted ways with the Zeliang-led party.

Rio and the relatively new Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP) are to contest 40 of the 60 seats, while the BJP will contest the rest. For his part, Neiphiu Rio has already put his coalition ahead by winning his assembly seat unopposed as his opponent for the Northern Angami-II constituency withdrew his nomination.

The exit polls following the Feb 27 elections have also given the NDPP-led coalition the upper hand. Neiphiu's meandering journey and political gambles could be about to pay off.

We'll find out on Saturday.