Historic Election Ahead - Eastern Mirror
Thursday, March 30, 2023

Historic Election Ahead

By The Editorial Team Updated: Mar 10, 2023 12:12 am

Barely days after the conduct of general election to the 14th Nagaland Legislative Assembly, the state is in election mode again with the State Election Commission (SEC) having announced the polling date to three municipal councils and 36 town councils, this time with 33% reservation of seats for women. This is a welcomed development as the urban local bodies (ULB) election has been pending for almost two decades now. This came after the Supreme Court repeatedly directed the SEC to conduct the election, stating that delaying the election defeats the rights of women. However, the delay can be partly attributed to the unfortunate incident in 2017 following the announcement of ULB election, which was disrupted by violent protests over 33% reservation for women, claiming two lives and damaging properties. After years of uncertainty, various mass-based civil society organisations, church bodies, tribal hohos, political parties, NGOs, and prominent personalities from the state gave the green signal for conduct of the election with reservation for women, as per the 74th Amendment Act of the Constitution of India, during a consultative meeting called by the state government last year to discuss the contentious issue. This time around, civil society organisations have cleared the decks for conduct of the elections and citizens of the state too are better informed about the importance of setting up such local civic bodies.

Municipal councils and town councils are local forms of self-government, entrusted with certain responsibilities and duties to administer certain areas falling under its jurisdiction. With its functions varying from public healthcare, welfare, safety to infrastructure works, these civic bodies play a vital role in development of its respective areas. In terms of revenue, the ULBs have several sources including taxes, grants-in-aid from state and Indian governments under centrally-sponsored schemes, Central Finance Commission grant, and others. In fact, Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio has repeatedly said that the Centre will not provide “grants” to the state if the ULB elections are not conducted and that the bodies will be given the free hand to use the revenue generated from taxes for development activities such as road, street lights, maintenance, sanitation, etc. in their specific areas. If properly executed as envisioned, these bodies can solve most civic issues that towns in the state face today. Implementation of 33% seat reservation will further boost women’s representation in the decision-making bodies after the recent election of two women to the Nagaland Legislative Assembly for the first time in the history of the state. While it has been hinted that seat reservation could be implemented only in areas that endorse it, no region will want to be left out of another historic moment for women in the state. In fact, she deserves it, and more.

By The Editorial Team Updated: Mar 10, 2023 12:12:11 am