By Raymond Kharmujai
Kohima/Shillong, Feb 12 (IANS) Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party’s Chief Ministerial candidate Neiphiu Rio was declared uncontested to the 60-member Nagaland assembly after his lone rival of the ruling Naga People’s Front (NPF) candidate Chupfuo Angami withdrew his nomination on Monday.
For Rio, who is currently Nagaland’s lone Lok Sabha member, it is the second time that he has won the assembly elections uncontested. The first time he won uncontested was a Congress candidate in 1998, when the separatist National Socialist Council of Nagalim (NSCN-IM) and Naga Hoho had called for a poll boycott after it signed a ceasefire with the Indian government in 1997.
“The NPF candidate withdrew his nomination today (Monday) and the only other candidate of the NDPP (Rio) was declared winner,” said Nagaland’s Chief Electoral Officer Abhijit Sinha.
NPF spokesperson Sebastian Zumvu said the party was surprised by their candidate’s decision, while there was jubilation in the NDPP-BJP, which has forged a pre-poll alliance and now has one seat in their kitty ahead of the February 27 elections.
“They (NPF) are imposing candidates with money to contest the elections and playing politics with money, but some of them realized that we need a strong leader to provide a stable government,” Rio told IANS from Kohima.
“I must say that people are fed up with the ruling party and you may expect more surprises in the days to come,” the three-time former Chief Minister added.
Rio also voiced confidence that NDPP-BJP will get an absolute majority the assembly elections
Last month, Rio quit the NPF, which he formed after leaving the Congress in early 2002 and joined the NDPP.
Meanwhile, a total of 195 candidates are in the fray after 32 candidates withdrew their nomination papers on Monday.