TNT Desk | Kohima, March 8, 2018
Here is a man who crushed the dream and aspiration of former chief minister and Naga People’s Front (NPF) heavyweight, TR Zeliang of retaining the CM post for another 5 years. He is Neiphiu Rio.
Born on November 11, 1950, Neiphiu Rio is the only Nagaland Chief Minister to have served three consecutive terms.
He was the Chief Minister of Nagaland of Naga People’s Front (NPF)-led Democratic Alliance of Nagaland (DAN) for three terms (2003–08, 2008–13 and 2013–14). And this will be Rio’s fourth tenure as Nagaland Chief Minister.
He was elected as a Lok Sabha member in 2014 and vacated the post of Chief Minister. He resigned as MP after he was elected to the Nagaland Assembly uncontested from the 11 Northern Angami II seat in the just concluded Nagaland Assembly elections.
67-year-old Rio, who led Nagaland for 11 years, is a force to be reckoned with in the north-eastern state. Often described as “the tallest leader in Nagaland” by party colleagues and rivals alike, Rio first became chief minister in 2003 when he won from the Northern Angami-II assembly seat in Kohima district as part of the Naga People’s Front (NPF), a party he formed after defecting from the Congress the previous year. He won again in 2008 and 2013.
Then, in January this year, Rio broke away from the ruling Naga People’s Front to join the fledgling Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP), a political outfit founded in May 2017 with his backing.
To secure his party’s electoral fortunes and his own political ambitions, Rio brokered an alliance with the BJP – the NDPP is contesting in 40 seats in the 60-member assembly, while the saffron party is fighting in the remaining 20 seats.
A report by the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) put the 4-time CM among the three richest candidates in the fray in Nagaland, with personal assets amounting to Rs 36.4 crore.