Former Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio was declared winner from the Northern Angami-II Assembly constituency after his lone rival withdrew his nomination on Monday.
This is the second such victory for Mr. Rio, currently Nagaland’s lone Lok Sabha member, in the space of 20 years. He won uncontested as a Congress candidate in 1998 when a boycott call made other parties shun the election.
This time, he contested as a candidate of a new regional party, Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP), which stitched together a pre-poll alliance with the BJP.
“The NPF [Naga People’s Front] candidate withdrew his nomination today [Monday] and the only other candidate of the NDPP was declared winner,” Chief Electoral Officer Abhijit Sinha said.
NPF spokesperson Sebastian Zumvu said the party was surprised by Mr. Angami’s decision. “But he must have realised his chances were very slim,” he said.
Leaders of the NDPP and the BJP said Mr. Rio’s victory augured well for the alliance. “I did not expect victory to come so early. This has fuelled our confidence of a good show on February 27 [the day of polling],” Mr. Rio told The Hindu .
He won the Lok Sabha polls in 2014 after serving as Nagaland’s Chief Minister for 11 years since 2003. But he made several attempts to return to State politics after anointing T.R. Zeliang as his successor.
A power struggle saw Mr. Rio quit the NPF, the party he had formed along with Kewekhape Therie, now the State Congress president, and join the NDPP a few weeks ago.
In 1998, Mr. Rio and Mr. Therie were among 43 Congress candidates who won the Assembly election unopposed. A similar situation happened in Arunachal Pradesh too. Of the 42 Congress candidates who won the 2014 Assembly elections in that State, 11 won it uncontested.