Nagaland civic polls: No nominations filed for two municipalities, tribal groups intensify boycott call

Two of the three municipalities in Nagaland did not receive a single nomination of candidature for the upcoming civic polls as various tribal groups have called for boycotting the election to protest 33 percent reservation of seats for women.

Kohima and MokokChung are the two municipal bodies that have not received any nomination despite the Nagaland government’s repeated effort to persuade the tribal groups to lift the boycott. In the last one week, various tribal bodies took to the streets protesting against the government’s move to reserve 33 percent seats in the civic bodies for women. They claim it is against Naga custom.

Eastern Mirror reported that the protesters stopped candidates from filing nomination by picketing in front of deputy commissioner's office.
Sentiyanger Imchen, the state electoral officer of Nagaland, told Firstpost, “No nomination has been filed for Kohima and MokokChung municipalities.” He also said that nominations have been filed for the town councils in the state, the number is likely to be announced later.

 Nagaland civic polls: No nominations filed for two municipalities, tribal groups intensify boycott call

Representational image. Reuters

The last date to file nomination for the civic polls, scheduled for 1 February, was extended to 9 January from 7 January due to the protests.

Nagaland has 11 districts, of which three — Kohima, Mokokchung and Dimapur — have municipalities and the remaining eight districts have town councils in the urban areas.

Though many town councils have received nominations of candidature, pressure on the candidates persist for withdrawal of nominations.

Tribal bodies like Lotha HoHo have demanded that candidates who have filed nomination for town council election should withdraw nomination, reported North East Live. Similar pressure also exist in other districts of the state as well. Chakhroma GB's Union (CGBU) have also issued a similar diktat.

Thepfukedo Kuotsu, president of the CGBU and general secretary Atso Gwizan have said, “If they go ahead with their candidature in defiance of the public desire, we can foresee serious ramification and consequences even on the polling day and even in the days thereafter."

Sources say that there is a possibility that some candidates might succumb to this threat and withdraw their nominations. The last day to withdraw nomination is 17 January.

The Nagaland Municipal Act 2001 was amended in 2006 to incorporate the provision of 33 percent reservation for women. The government of Nagaland in a recent Cabinet meeting has decided to proceed with the election despite protests and it held the view that the 33 percent reservation for women will not infringe upon the rights of the Naga people, according to a press release issued by Menukhol John, principal secretary, Department of Municipal Affairs.

Hokiye Sema, the president of Central Naga Tribal Council, told Firstpost, “In Naga society, a woman is not considered to be equal to men. She is not even allowed to speak in panchayat until and unless she is summoned by it. Providing 33 percent reservation to women amounts to giving her the same status as men and it gives men inferiority complex.”

He also said that the Naga society has been following these laws for more than thousand years and those cannot be just wiped out.
He also said that Article 371(A) of the Constitution of India provides the Naga people with the right to frame their own laws as per local customs.

Naga Mother’s Association earlier filed a case in the Supreme Court of India demanding 33 percent reservation for women. The case is still being heard by the apex court.

Rosemary Dzuvichu, a Naga feminist leader and advisor of the Naga Mothers Association, a civil society organisation, had earlier told Firstpost that this election has nothing to do with Naga culture as per an earlier order passed by the apex court.

"Some of the members of the village council, who are male, are also ex-councillors of the local civic body. If the reservation law is implemented, then some of them will lose seats previously held by them to women candidates," she had said.

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Updated Date: Jan 10, 2017 21:10:16 IST