NDPP leader Neiphiu Rio, who gave music the status of an industry in Nagaland, has always stayed in tune with the times. Today, when he was sworn in as the chief minister of the state for the fourth time, he scored a new record.
The first chief minister in Nagaland to have won three elections in a row, Rio assumed office for the fourth time in the northeastern state, as saffron flags fluttered across the capital to underline his partys alliance with the BJP.
The former leader of the Naga People's Front (NPF), Rio, 68, who served as chief minister in 2003, 2008 and 2013, is one term short of the record set by S C Jamir, now Odisha governor, who headed a government five times.
Often described as one of the tallest leaders of Nagaland, Rio survived an assassination attempt when a group of armed people ambushed his motorcade at Dimapur in Nagaland on May 20, 1995. He was then the state PWD minister.
His driver was killed and several of his bodyguards were injured.
Born in 1952 to the Late Guolhoulie Rio of Tuophema village in Kohima district, his early education was at the Baptist English School (now Baptist High) in Kohima and then Sainik School in Purulia, West Bengal. He went for higher studies to St Joseph's College in Darjeeling and then to Kohima Arts College.
He joined politics as a young man, and first became the president of the Kohima District Youth Wing of United Democratic Front when he was barely 22.
From the same constituency, he was re-elected as a Congress candidate in 1993 and then elected unopposed in the 1998 Assembly election. Earlier Minister for Works and Housing, he was appointed state Home Minister.
Differences cropped up with the Congress over time, prompting him to step down as an MLA on November 7, 2002, angered over a Nagaland Pradesh Congress Committee publication, 'Bedrock of Naga Society'.
Rio successfully contested from the Northern Angami -II seat in 2003 on an NPF ticket. He was elected leader of the Democratic Alliance of Nagaland (DAN) and appointed chief minister till President's Rule was imposed on January 3, 2008.
Re-elected from the same constituency as an NPF candidate in the 2008 Assembly election, he was again made leader of the NPF and DAN Legislature Party and appointed chief minister for the second term.
Rio, who once nurtured national political ambitions, resigned as chief minister on May 23, 2014, after he was elected to the Lok Sabha.
But he soon returned to state politics, and emerged as the unopposed winner from Northern Angami-II seat after NPF candidate Chupfuo Kense pulled out of the contest in the recent Assembly elections.
While the NDPP won 18 seats, the BJP cornered 12 in the 60-member House.
The support of Independent candidate Tongpang Ozukum and JD(U)'s G Kaito Aye, who has been one of Rio's close aides, helped him oust incumbent chief minister T R Zeliang and pick up the reins of the state for the fourth time.
Under Rio's leadership, the state saw a Music Task Force, which sought to give the music industry in Nagaland a boost. In 2012, he had declared that music would be an industry in the state.
He was appointed chief minister for the third term on March 5, 2013, after getting elected from the same constituency as an NPF candidate.
The chief minister, who has travelled to 27 countries, is married to Kaisa Rio. They have five daughters and one son.
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