Agartala: Former Nagaland chief minister Neiphiu Rio, contesting the February 27 Assembly elections as a candidate of newly-floated Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP), was declared winner on Monday as his lone rival Chupfuo Angami of ruling Naga People’s Front (NPF) opted out.
Later, Angami told reporters he had dropped out as he felt his “position was not good”.
The decision came as a surprise to the NPF leadership. NPF spokesman Sebastian Zumvu said Angami must have realised he was not in a position to win. “He told us his position was not good but he should have contested,” Zumvu said.
Rio, who is currently serving as the state’s lone Lok Sabha member, was overjoyed. “We are confident the BJP-NDPP alliance will get absolute majority,” he told a national English daily.
Initially, the BJP had sought to align with NPF but differences over seat-sharing made it to forge an alliance with the NDPP. The BJP is contesting in 20 seats while the NDPP is contesting in the remaining 40.
Meanwhile, Rio has set his sights on the CM’s chair, which he occupied thrice. He had defected to the NDPP, a party believed to be his brainchild, recently after being cornered in the NPF. The NDPP-BJP is likely to give the NPF a run for their money.
In 2014, while serving as the CM for third term in a row, Rio had stepped down and contested the Lok Sabha elections. His idea was to play a “bigger role” to secure the solution to the Naga political problem vis-à-vis Naga insurgency issue. He was apparently promised of a ministerial berth in the Narendra Modi cabinet by the BJP but eventually cold-shouldered. So, he made an abortive bid to get back the CM’s chair but only to be cornered in the NPF.