Nagaland Assembly Elections 2023: Key Candidates in the tussle

By Banibrata Datta (FTFMI)

The northeastern state of Nagaland will vote for assembly elections on February 27, and the results will be announced on March 2. The ruling coalition of the BJP and the Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP) has once again entered into a pre-poll seat-sharing agreement for the 60-seat assembly. The NDPP is contesting 40 seats and the BJP fielding candidates in 20 seats.

The Naga People’s Front (NPF) will fight the BJP-NDPP alliance in over 40 seats, but it has also said that it won’t hesitate to join the government if the need arises. The Nagaland Assembly elections 2023 are expected to be a tight contest between the ruling BJP-NDPP alliance and the NPF as both parties work to find solutions to the Naga issues. The current assembly, elected in 2018, will end on March 12.

Here are the key candidates in the upcoming contest

Neiphiu Rio

Neiphiu Rio is a seasoned politician who will contest from his home constituency of Northern Angami-II. He won the seat seven times, having lost only once in 1987 when he made his debut into state electoral politics. If he wins again, he would want to be the state’s chief minister for the fifth time.

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TR Zeliang

Former Congress leader and two-time Chief Minister of Nagaland, TR Zeliang joined the NDPP last year and will be contesting from the Peren assembly seat. Zeliang became the Chief Minister of Nagaland for the first time in 2014 after Neiphiu Rio’s election to the Lok Sabha in the Indian general elections of 2014. With a strong political background, he will be a key candidate in the upcoming election.

Kuzholuzo Nienu

Kuzholuzo Nienu, the NPF legislative party leader, will be running from his home constituency of Phek. Nienu has emphasised the importance of finding a solution to the Naga political issue and said that the NPF does not support any Naga political group. He aims to achieve an honourable solution to the Naga issue after the election.

G Kaito Aye

G Kaito Aye, a minister in the incumbent government, will run from the Satakha assembly seat. He was elected to the Nagaland Legislative Assembly in 2018 as a candidate of Janata Dal (United) but later joined the Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party. During his time as a minister of Agriculture and Cooperative in the fourth Neiphiu Rio cabinet from 2018, Aye made significant contributions to the state.

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KG Kenye

KG Kenye, a former Rajya Sabha MP, is the NDPP candidate from the Chizami seat. Kenye has been vocal about his efforts to find a solution to the Naga political issue and achieve permanent peace in the state and the northeast. He will be a strong candidate for the NDPP in the election.

Khriehu Liezietsu

Khriehu Liezietsu, the son of former Chief Minister Dr Shurhozelie Liezietsu, has been named as the NPF candidate from the Northern Angami-I assembly constituency. This seat has been a bastion of the NPF and Liezietsu will be looking to retain it. With his political background and connections, he will be a crucial candidate in the upcoming election.