Nagaland’s election has ended even before the voters have voted. Former chief minister Neiphiu Rio has been elected from his seat uncontested. This was after his opponent withdrew his candidature.
Neiphiu Rio left the Naga People’s Front to join the Nationalist Democratic Party, BJP’s ally. This would be his fourth time running for the position of CM. He has been declared the winner of the North Angami-II seat. His rival from NPF withdrew his nomination on Monday. Chupfuo Angami was not only Neiphiu’s rival but is also his brother-in-law. He forfeited the seat because his position wasn’t good, according to reports.
This is not the first time Rio is entering the Assembly uncontested. In 1998 he was elected without challenge when the other parties boycotted the election. Neiphiu Rio is the Member of Parliament from Nagaland, he won the Lok Sabha seat in 2014 as part of the NPF. He has served as Nagaland’s CM for three terms before from 2003 to 2014, for 11 years. When he won the Lok Sabha seat, TR Zeliang was the CM. Neiphiu Rio quit NPF, despite being its co-founder when it was going to break its alliance with BJP.
Nagaland will be holding its polls on 27th February. The votes will be counted on March 3. NPF’s spokesperson Sebastian Zumvu said the party was surprised at Angami’s decision. This has come as a significant victory for BJP in Nagaland as it clears the path for Neiphiu Rio to take on the CM’s post. Data provided by the Chief Electoral Officer reveal that 32 candidates had withdrawn on Monday. While this might be a time to rejoice for Rio it still raises questions of concern regarding Nagaland’s politics. This seems to be a habitual practice in Nagaland if history is anything to go by. While the reasons for Rio’s victory still seem unclear, it’s more disconcerting that democracy doesn’t provide Nagaland plenty of choices.