Zeliang became the president of Youth Congress in his native Peren district while he was studying at Kohima College in 1976 and though he lost the first two assembly elections he contested in 1982 and 1987, he won in successive polls after that and never looked back.

62-year-old Zeliang, born in Mhaupungwa village of Peren district, had received his school education from Don Bosco School at Dibrugarh in Assam.

As a young man, he was also involved in various social activities and was the president of Zelaingrong Students Union from 1975-79, general secretary of Zelaingrong Action Committee and Zelaingrong Youth Organisation besides being the co-founder of Peren College.

He contested the state assembly polls for the first time in 1982 as an independent from Tening seat and on a Naga National Democratic Party ticket in 1987 from the same constituency but lost both the times.

He, however, did not give up and emerged successful the next time in 1989 on a Naga Peoples Council ticket from Tening. Zelaing, then 37 years old, was given the portfolio of Information and Public Relations, Tourism and Parliamentary Affairs.

He switched over to Congress and won the seat in 1993 and became the Minister for Relief and Rehabilitation.

In the next two state assembly elections in 1998 and 2003, he fought the polls on Congress ticket and retained the seat. In 1998 he held the portfolio of Forest, Environment and Wild Life but after the next polls resigned and defected to Naga Peoples Front (NPF).

He took a brief break from politics on being elected to Rajya Sabha in 2004 but returned after a little over four years to contest the 2008 state assembly polls on a NPF ticket.

He was elected from his old seat and was appointed Minister for Planning & Coordination, Evaluation, Veterinary & Animal Husbandry and Parliamentary Affairs.

Zeliang was re-elected from the same constituency to the present house last year and was appointed the Minister for Planning and Coordination, Evaluation, and Geology and Mining in the Neiphiu Rio government.

He was appointed as chief minister yesterday following the resignation of Neiphiu Rio, who won the lone Nagaland Lok Sabha seat.


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