When Nagaland goes to the polls on February 27, former Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio would have no reason to worry about retaining his seat. He has already been declared the winner from the Northern Angami-II seat. Rio's unopposed victory came after his rival from the Naga People's Front (NPF) withdrew his nomination.
Rio had quit the NPF last month and joined the newly-formed Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP). The NDPP is a BJP ally. He is in the running for a fourth term as Nagaland Chief Minister.
"The NPF candidate withdrew his nomination today, and the only other candidate of the NDPP was declared winner," Nagaland's Chief Electoral Officer Abhijit Sinha said on Monday.
Rio's only opponent for the Northern Angami-II was NPF's Chupfuo Angami, who happens to be Rio's brother-in-law. Angami said he had quit the race because "his position was not good", reports said.
This is not the first time that Rio will enter the Nagaland Assembly without a challenge. In 1998, he had been elected unopposed as a Congress candidate, thanks to boycott of the election by other parties.
Rio is presently the Member of Parliament for Nagaland, the only seat the state has in the Lok Sabha. He had won the seat in 2014 as an NPF candidate.
In the event of a victory for his party, Rio would have to resign his Lok Sabha seat to be able to continue as a Nagaland MLA, and possibly Chief Minister.
Rio has served three terms spanning 11 years as Chief Minister of Nagaland, from 2003 to 2014. He had passed on the CM's office to TR Zeliang after winning the Lok Sabha seat. Rio had quit the NPF, which he had co-founded, after the party leadership decided to break its alliance with the BJP.
Nagaland goes to the polls on February 27. Counting of votes will be held on March 3, along with the Assembly elections in Tripura and Meghalaya.