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Hold convention to resolve factional differences, EC tells Naga party

New Delhi, Oct 18 (IANS) The Election Commission has asked the Nagaland People’s Front — facing factionalism — to conduct a general convention to resolve the intra-party dispute and file a report within two months.

The factions are led by former Chief Ministers Neiphiu Rio and Shurhozelie Liezietsu.

The commission said there was evident split in the party with two apparent rival groups and asked them to first exhaust the “specific mechanism provided in their party’s constitution to settle the dispute internally”.

“A report should be submitted by the NPF on the meeting and its outcomes after the conduct of general convention as per the laid-down procedure. This may be done at the earliest and in any event within two months,” the commission said.

The EC decision is seen as a setback to Rio’s faction, which had moved the panel to demand he be recognised as party President with effect from August 13.

The list of office-bearers submitted to the poll panel by the NPF in 2015 had mentioned Liezietsu as the party chief.

Rio filed an application on August 17, claiming to be NPF President. In his plea, Rio told the commission that NPF legislators held meetings on July 29 and July 31 in Kohima, wherein 36 MLAs resolved to issue directions to all NPF leaders and workers to abstain from complying with Liezietsu’s orders and urged him to step down as NPF chief within 15 days.

Rio, a Lok Sabha MP, also attached a resolution of the party’s Central Executive Council meeting of August 22 and notification calling for general convention on September 20.

Rio requested the commission that his election as President be recognised from August 13 and the NPF election symbol of ‘cock’ be allotted to his group.

In his response, Liezietsu said he was the duly-elected NPF President and Rio was not a party member as he was suspended with effect from August 1.

The Election Commission said both factions have filed individual affidavits from party members. Rio, it said, had filed affidavits of 27 of the 38 MLAs and 31 of the 63 central office-bearers while Liezietsu’s group had filed affidavits of 10 MLAs, one Rajya Sabha MP, and 30 central office-bearers.

–IANS
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