The suspension of former Nagaland chief minister Neiphiu Rio from the ruling Naga People's Front by party president Shurhozelie Liezietsu has sharpened Rio's feud with incumbent Chief Minister T.R. Zeliang.While Liezietsu has accused Rio of violating party discipline, the former chief minister has trashed his suspension from the party, saying he is not afraid of any such action. Liezietsu has asserted that he has acted in accordance with the party rules. Observers here say that hostility between Rio and Zeliang has sharpened since Rio, now a member of parliament, has raised the possibility of his returning to the state's politics.In recent times, Rio, who was Nagaland chief minister thrice, has, in fact, fuelled that speculation by reiterating that Nagaland remains his constituency.
However, the Zeliang-Liezietsu camp has sought to make that difficult for Rio by levelling allegations that he was instigating revolt against the incumbent chief minister of the party. In the 60-member Nagaland assembly, the ruling Democratic Alliance of Nagaland commands 52 members. The NPF with 38 members is the largest party within the alliance and in the house. Rio was the main architect of the alliance when the outfit was floated with an aim to contest elections in the Naga-inhabited areas of Manipur. In the last assembly elections in Manipur, the alliance won four seats in the 60-member house. Meanwhile, questions have been raised on the educational qualification of Chief Minister Zeliang. It has been alleged that no document has been produced to prove his qualification.