KOHIMA: Nagaland Chief Electoral Officer Abhijit Sinha on Tuesday said that they are prepared to conduct February 27 assembly polls despite several Naga civil society groups and political parties seeking their deferment.
His comments came in wake of the Core Committee of Nagaland Tribal Hoho and Civil Organisations (CCNTCHOC) writing to Chief Election Commissioner O.P. Rawat, appealing to him to defer the polls so that an early solution to the protracted Naga insurgency issue can be reached.
"We are all prepared to conduct the polls. The election notification for the February 27 elections will be issued on Wednesday after which nominations can be filed in returning officers from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. till February 7," Sinha told IANS.
"It is a constitutional requirement and nothing is going to change the election schedule. We are going ahead to conduct the election as announced by the Election Commission. Therefore, I appeal to everyone not to vitiate this election process," he said.
Sinha said that central armed police force personnel have started coming and about 280 companies are expected to arrive for election duty.
As many as 11 political parties, including the ruling Naga People's Front, and the Bharatiya Janata Party, on Monday issued a joint declaration not to issue party ticket or file nominations for the assembly polls in response to the call by various tribal groups for "Solution before Election".
The joint declaration was also signed by the Congress, the Nationalist Congress Party, the Janata Dal-United, the Lok Janshakti Party, the Aam Aadmi Party, the Nagaland Democratic People's Party, the Nagaland Congress, the United Naga Democratic Party and the National People's Party at a meeting convened by the CCNTCHOC, which cautioned that any candidate or party defying the call will be treated as "anti-Naga".
However, Nagaland BJP President Visasolie Lhoungu said that the party state unit will "abide by the directives of the party high command" and state Vice President Kheto Sema has been suspended for signing the declaration without consulting senior party leaders.
Reacting to Sema's suspension, the Core Committee have asked the BJP to clarify its position on the joint declaration.
It has also threatened a shutdown on February 1, if the Election Commission goes ahead to issue the election notification.
Meanwhile Union Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju said that holding of timely elections is a constitutional process and the government believes "peaceful election in Nagaland will facilitate the ongoing peace talks".
The separatist National Socialist Council of Nagalim-Issac Muivah, which had signed the Framework Agreement to end Naga insurgency in August 2015 with the central government, had claimed that the decision to hold elections was bound to undermine progress in the ongoing talks.
This is the second time that Nagaland assembly polls are heading for a boycott after 1998.