Kohima: After going through every political party`s election manifesto or poll promises, electorates in Nagaland today are poised to cast their votes, keeping issues in mind ranging from separate state`s demands, corruption, etc. There are various issues that have been in the spotlight for years, including the demand for a separate state. The election campaign for the Assembly polls in the state ended on February 25.
The polling will begin at 7 am today and will go on till 4 pm amid tight security. Several political parties, testing their fate in the elections made tall and people-centric poll promises. The Janajati Dharma-Sanksriti Suraksha Mancha`s (JDSSM) Assam chapter has put forward a demand to delist from the Scheduled Tribes those who have converted to other faiths, making it an election issue in poll-bound Meghalaya and Nagaland.
The ruling BJP and its ally NDPP have been accused of maintaining silence on the issue, while the BJP opposed the demand. Earlier, the Eastern Nagaland Peoples` Organisation (ENPO) had called for the boycott of the polls until its demands are met by the Centre. The ENPO had demanded a separate state — `Frontier Nagaland` comprising six districts of eastern Nagaland — Tuensang, Mon, Shamator, Kiphire, Noklak and Longleng.
The demand had raised concerns over the uninterrupted and smooth conduct of Assembly polls in nearly 20 constituencies. However, following an assurance by Union Home Minister Amit Shah on February 2 that an agreement will be signed with the ENPO after the elections, the Naga tribal organization withdrew its call for a poll boycott. A forum of MLAs representing the 20 constituencies, named Eastern Nagaland Legislators Union, had rejected the boycott call by the ENPO and announced that they will contest the elections.
The National Socialist Council of Nagaland(IM) and the Naga National Political Groups (NNPG), which is a large firm of seven rebel groups, on January 14 jointly declared their commitment to resolve the rights of the Nagas based on the agreements signed with the central government. Notably, there was a `Framework of Agreement` signed between NSCN(IM) and the Centre in 2015 to resolve the “Naga political issue”. While in 2017, Naga National Political Groups signed an `Agreed Position` with the government, the Centre had said that it would sign a single peace accord with all the rebel groups.
During the election campaign, Congress national president Mallikarjun Kharge charged Prime Minister Narendra Modi with “cheating” the people of Nagaland, claiming that the government failed to resolve the Naga political issue and also questioned its omission from the party`s election manifesto. In March 2022, Amit Shah announced to removal Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) from several districts of Assam, Manipur, and Nagaland.
In October last year, the Centre decided to extend AFSPA in parts of Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland for another six months.”Nine districts and 16 police stations in four districts of Nagaland were being declared as `disturbed areas` after a review of the law and order situation in the state,” the Home Ministry had said in a notification. Notably, AFSPA has been in force in the whole of Nagaland since 1995. Corruption has emerged to be another big issue in Nagaland ahead of the state polls.
While the Nagaland Congress vowed to end corruption if voted to power, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during his election campaign, accused the Congress of using the Northeast as its ATM, neglecting the development of the region. Prime Minister Narendra Modi attacked the previous Congress governments saying that they considered all states in the Northeast as ATMs, adding that the entire region is now “punishing” the grand old party for its “sins”.
“I can sense huge support for the BJP and NDPP. I see so support for the BJP-NDPP government in Nagaland. This is because we are working tirelessly to bring development to the Northeast. Congress and its partners have been following the policy of taking votes, while not doing anything for the welfare of the people. Congress leaders in Delhi have a habit of not looking at Nagaland. Congress and its allies never gave importance to stability and prosperity of the state.
There was always political instability during the Congress rule,” PM Modi said while addressing a poll rally here.”Congress always ruled the Nagaland government through remote control from Delhi. From Delhi to Dimapur, Congress indulged in dynasty politics.
The entire northeast along with Nagaland is punishing Congress for its sins,” he added. The voting for the Assembly elections in Nagaland will take place on Monday, and the counting of votes will be held on March 2 along with those of Tripura and Meghalaya.