Neiphiu Rio (born November 11, 1950) is an Indian politician who is the current Chief Minister of Nagaland. Earlier, he was the Chief Minister of Nagaland for three terms (2003–08, 2008–13 and 2013–14), making him the only Nagaland Chief Minister to have served three consecutive terms. He was also a Member of Parliament from Nagaland in the Lok Sabha from 2014-2018.
Early life and education
Rio is the son of Late Guolhoulie Rio of Tuophema village in Kohima District and belongs to the Angami Naga tribe. He received his early education from Baptist English School, Kohima and Sainik School Purulia, West Bengal. He attended college at St. Joseph’s College, Darjeeling and later graduated from Kohima Arts College.
An active student leader in his School and College days, Rio entered into the realm politics at a very young age. He had headed many prestigious organizations before becoming the Nagaland Chief Minister. He had been the President of Kohima District United Democratic Front (UDF) Youth Wing in 1974. He was also appointed as the Chairman of Northern Angami Area Council in 1984. He also had been the honorary Vice President of Indian Red Cross Society Nagaland branch.
On joining politics, Rio was first elected to Nagaland Legislative Assembly as Congress (I) candidate from the Northern Angami-II constituency during the 7th General Elections of 1989. He was appointed as the Minister for Sports and School Education and subsequently as Minister for Higher & Technical Education and Art & Culture; also served as Chairman in Nagaland Industrial Development Corporation, Nagaland Khadi & Village Industries Board and Development Authority of Nagaland. Rio was again elected from the same Constituency in 1993 as Congress (I) candidate and appointed as Minister for Works & Housing.As a member of the Indian National Congress, Rio was Nagaland’s Home Minister as part of the cabinet headed by S. C. Jamir from 1998 till 2002 when he resigned from the ministry accusing Chief Minister S. C. Jamir of blocking a negotiated settlement of the vexed Naga issue.
On resigning, Rio joined Naga People’s Front which partnered with other Naga regionalist parties and the state branch of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) under his leadership to form the Democratic Alliance of Nagaland (DAN), a coalition which won the 2003 state elections, bringing the 10-year-long rule of the Indian National Congress in the state to an end. Rio subsequently took office as Chief Minister on March 6, 2003.
Before completing his first term, Rio was dismissed as Chief Minister when President’s Rule was imposed on Nagaland on January 3, 2008.However, his party emerged as the single largest party in the ensuing elections and Rio, as the leader of DAN, was invited by the state Governor to form the government on March 12, 2008. During the 2013 Nagaland State elections, NPF won a thumping majority and Rio was re-elected as Chief Minister for a third term.
Rio was nominated as Life time Deputy Governor (Honorary) in 1999 in the Board of Governors by American Biographical Institute Research Association. Rio played a key role in setting up the Music Task Force, the first music industry in the country. He was awarded The Mother Teresa Millennium award, for his outstanding leadership and contributions to politics in Kolkata in the year 2007.