Kohima, July 21 (IANS) Imtikumzuk Longkumer of the Congress was on Tuesday elected unopposed as the new deputy speaker of the Nagaland assembly.
However, BJP legislators supporting the Naga People’s Front-led Democratic Alliance of Nagaland (DAN) staged a walkout following the party directive not to vote for the Congress candidate.
Speaker Chotisuh Sazo declared Longkumer elected as the new deputy speaker of the 60-member house since there were no other contenders.
Longkumer replaced independent legislator Levi Rengma, who was elevated to the rank of parliamentary secretary on April 27.
Four BJP legislators led by legislature party leader P. Paiwang Konyak walked out before the speaker’s declaration.
“We cannot support the Congress candidate as the party (BJP) leadership does not agree to the decision of the coalition partner (NPF). Therefore, we staged the walkout sticking to our party principle and directive,” BJP legislator Mmhonlumo Kikon told IANS.
The BJP has since 2003 been supporting the coalition DAN government led by the Naga People’s Front (NPF) that Chief Minister T.R. Zeliang belongs to. The other constituents are the JD-U and the NCP.
Eight opposition Congress legislators had voted in favour of Zeliang, who was seeking a trust vote in the assembly on February 5.
In return, Zeliang accommodated one Congress lawmaker in his cabinet, another was appointed adviser to the chief minister with cabinet rank, and five others were inducted as parliamentary secretaries.
Congratulating the newly elected deputy speaker, Zeliang expressed hope that he would play a neutral role and work for the smooth conduct of the house.
In the assembly, the NPF has 38 members, supported by pre-poll alliance partners – four of the BJP and one of the Janata Dal-United, while one member of the Nationalist Congress Party and eight independent members give outside support to the government. The Congress has eight members.