Nagaland votes in 'historic' civic bodies polls; no incidents of violence reported

There were over 2.23 lakh voters. All major political parties in the state such as the Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party, BJP and Congress contested.
Voters standing in a queue show their ID cards before casting their votes for the Nagaland Assembly election, at a polling booth in Dimapur.
Voters standing in a queue show their ID cards before casting their votes for the Nagaland Assembly election, at a polling booth in Dimapur. (Photo | PTI)

GUWAHATI: Nagaland’s "historic" urban local body (ULB) elections were held on Wednesday.

According to officials, no incidents of violence were reported from anywhere.

The Eastern Nagaland Peoples’ Organisation boycotted the polls as the Centre failed to fulfil its demand for “frontier Nagaland territory”. The ENPO, which is the apex tribal organisation of eastern Nagaland covering six “backward” districts, had earlier boycotted the Lok Sabha polls. Their decision to not participate in the ULB elections affected 14 town councils.

The ULB polls were dubbed historic for two reasons. First, they were held after a gap of 20 years. Secondly, it is for the first time that the polls featured 33 per cent reservation for women.

The votes, to be counted on June 29, will decide the fate of 523 candidates. There were over 2.23 lakh voters. All major political parties in the state such as the Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party, BJP and Congress contested.

Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio had on Tuesday appealed to people to exercise their franchise.

“As Nagaland participates in the ULB elections, I request all eligible voters to cast your vote. ULBs are crucial as they provide a platform for citizens’ participation in urban management, and the development of our towns & cities. Best wishes for a peaceful & successful polling day,” Rio had written on X.

Nagaland enacted its Municipal Act in 2001. The first ULB elections in 2004 were held without reservation for women. The government issued a notification for the next ULB polls in 2012 but the same could not be held following objections from tribal bodies. They stood opposed to quotas and certain clauses in the Municipal Act.

In September of the same year, the Assembly passed a resolution to exempt the state from the Constitution’s Article 243T which deals with quotas for women but revoked it in 2016.

In 2017, the state government attempted to go to polls with 33 per cent reservation for women but it backfired. Protestors attacked and set ablaze government buildings in parts of the state. The powerful tribal organisations contested that reservation for women was an infringement on the Naga customary laws, as enshrined in Article 371(A) of the Constitution which protects the state’s traditional way of life.

In the wake of the violence, the then Chief Minister TR Zeliang had to quit and the state government declared the poll process null and void. Later, some women's organisations moved to the High Court and then, the Supreme Court.

Last year, the apex court directed the Nagaland State Election Commission to notify the polls and hold the same with 33 per cent quota for women. The state government paved the way for the polls by making certain amendments to the Municipal Act.

Voters standing in a queue show their ID cards before casting their votes for the Nagaland Assembly election, at a polling booth in Dimapur.
Nagaland to hold civic polls after 20 years, with 33% reservation for women on June 26

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