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Presidential poll: All 59 MLAs cast vote

Correspondents KOHIMA, JUL 17 (NPN)
Published on 18 Jul. 2017 12:41 AM IST
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All the 59 legislators of Nagaland on Monday cast their votes to elect the 14th President of India here at the Nagaland Legislative Assembly secretariat annexe conference room.
Security was tight in the NLA secretariat, not for any reason but to prevent legislators from being poached by rival groups in view of the current crisis. NPF legislators and Rajya Sabha MP, in support of chief minister Dr. Shürhozelie Liezietsu, were the first group to cast their votes during the first hour.
Later, after a gap of few hours, the dissident group of legislators (in favour of T.R. Zeliang) came in two hired buses to cast their votes. However, former chief minister, T.R. Zeliang came in his official vehicle.
Interestingly, during the second part of the day, some legislators were also seen outside the polling booth to ensure that none of the flocks go astray to the other side.
Earlier, the dissident legislators camped at hotel Vivor, were greeted with jeers by hundreds of NPF party men including women with placards, lined up by the road side opposite NBCC convention hall.
Some of the placards read-- “honourable MLAs don’t play with people’s mandate”, “stop teaching petty politics to younger generations”, “hon’ble MLAs stop playing divisive politics”, “ stop dividing Naga society for your political gain” etc.
CM barred from entering NLA
It was an unusual but also the first incident involving a sitting chief minister of Nagaland, when he was prevented from entering the Nagaland Legislative Assembly (NLA) premises by its staff on Monday ahead of the presidential polling inside the assembly.  After accompanying his cabinet colleagues who were to vote, Dr. Shürhozelie Liezietsu was prevented from entering his office chamber at the NLA Secretariat as the connecting gates were closed by the NLA staff.
Interacting with media persons after the presidential poll concluded at his office chamber, chief minister Dr. Shürhozelie Liezietsü informed that he had officially written to the NLA Speaker Dr. Imtiwapang on Sunday about his plan to visit the NLA on Monday.
However, when he arrived at the NLA premises, Dr. Shürhozelie said the entrance gate had closed. Even when attempts were made to contact NLA officials, there was no response said the chief minister who was kept waiting outside for as long as 15 minutes. Later when attempting to walk through the NLA secretariat corridor, Dr. Shürhozelie said someone pulled him from behind. This infuriated his PRO and on coming to know of the incident, he said the NLA Speaker apologised to him. Later, the NLA Speaker blamed the commissioner and secretary for the confusion since he (Speaker) claimed he was himself not informed about the visit.
Dr. Liezietsü also pointed out that the Assembly secretariat appointed one of the dissident MLA as the election agent for the polling without consulting or even informing the government. He said the assembly during such occasions ought to be above party politics. The chief minister described the MLAs holed up in Hotel Vivor as NPF members but dissidents who are runaways.
He lamented that the dissidents have run away by forgetting their duties and responsibilities and want to claim power from a distance. Dr. Shürhozelie said that as per the desire of public and Church, the suspensions on Neiphiu Rio, T.R. Zeliang and nine others were revoked for reconciliation but instead they have spurned it.
He said the party still recognizes the dissidents as NPF members. However, if they continue to reject reconciliation and unity then the party will have to search for new candidates for the next election, he said, adding “There is a limit to everything.”
Asked why he refused to face floor test, the chief minister explained that as per rule if there is no challenge to the government by way of a no confidence motion, then the Governor cannot compel a floor test.
He also replied in the negative when asked if PR was in the offing.
Government Spokesperson Yitachu told media persons after casting his vote, that the chief minister was not at all planning to enter the voting chamber since he was still not a member of the house and so did not have voting right.
Yitachu said Dr. Shürhozelie only wanted to be in his assembly office chamber and ensure smooth conduct of the polling and not for any other purposes.
He said the CMO had informed the NLA Speaker and the Secretariat on Sunday about the chief minister’s planned visit on Monday.
Yitachu said though Dr. Shürhozelie was yet to be a member of the house, yet by virtue of being the chief minister and as per the rules, he could enter the assembly.
Yitachu also wondered why the dissident MLAs were in a hurry to grab the chair. “They could wait for the bye-poll results. If Dr. Liezietsu loses the election his term will end by August 21 and a new CM can be selected,” he said.
NLA commr & secy clarifies: NLA commissioner & secretary, Benjamin Newmai told Nagaland Post that on receipt of letter on Sunday from CMO informing about the chief minister’s planned visit to the NLA premise, he had forwarded the same to his subordinate officer to make necessary arrangements.
On Monday, Newmai said he along with polling officers were busy making arrangements for the polling. He also the CEO and the central observer were also doing their rounds for sanitising the premises for the polling. During that period, he said some staff had closed the entry and rear gates without knowing that the CM was to arrive as informed,
Benjamin however said he took full responsibility for the incident which occurred due to unforeseen communication gap.

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