Most female electorates in Nagaland deprived of independent vote choice
There is always some kind of ‘political conversations’ during elections
KOHIMA, NAGALAND — In what could be considered a huge leap towards bridging the gender gap in political participation, two women were elected to the 14th Nagaland Legislative Assembly for the first time in the history of the state. However, most Naga mothers and daughters were still deprived of independently choosing the candidates of their choice during the recently held assembly election.
As the world observes Women’s Day on March 8 to celebrate women’s achievements as well as to emphasise the importance of achieving gender equality and women’s rights, some women shared about their political rights, in the backdrop of the general election.
Sakrolu, 45-year-old mother from Phek Assembly Constituency, told Eastern Mirror that decision to vote for a particular candidate is normally taken at the family-level including the in-laws.
They hold discussions and upon finalisation of the candidate, all the family members give their votes to that one candidate accordingly, she said, adding that she was “satisfied” with the decision taken.
“There is nothing more important than the family”, she said when asked why she doesn’t vote for the candidate of her choice.
On a similar note, another mother, Asevi, from the Southern Angami-I assembly constituency, said she gave her vote to a particular candidate according to the family’s decision.
“We (family members) decided and agreed to vote for the candidate who is good for people,” she said.
Mhalo, 40, also said that she goes with the decision of her parents and brothers back home in Wokha. “We talk about who can give a secured future and vote accordingly”, she said.
Another person, who did not wish to be named, pointed out that most females are not interested in elections and do not give much importance. It is their father, elder brothers or male members in the family who normally decide for the whole family.
The person added that in villages where a candidate is set up, the village councils themselves solicit the support of the village members to vote for that candidate. Therefore, cases of “consensus” candidates are common in Nagaland villages, the person added.
On the contrary, Imtisenla Jamir from 9 Kohima Town AC, said she decides on how genuine the candidate is and looks into aspects like whether the public leader is helping the common people, and whether the MLA is fulfilling his/her promises.
In the 2018 election, she decided to support someone whom she believed was a “genuine” candidate and even tried to “convince” others to vote for him. But Nagas are “like that – if we see money, we fall for it”, she lamented.
“There are candidates who make a lot of false promises making us unable to believe them”, Jamir pointed out. She added that it becomes evident when one person rules for a long time without bringing development.
Jamir said in this election, she observed whether the candidate was good, whether they helped others and what kind of agenda they brought to the table. She attended their campaigns and listened to their speeches. Accordingly, she decided whom to vote for.
She also said that she voted according to her will.
Nobody including the family members can stop her from voting for the candidate of her choice, Jamir added.
24-year-old Keletsino Mejura from the Southern Angami-I also said that when it comes to voting, it has always been her independent decision.
“There is always some kind of ‘political conversations’ during elections, at my home but in the end, the choice to vote for which party/ candidate is solely our own”, she added.
She also said her vote is usually based on the way the candidates connect on a grassroots-level with his/her people. As long as they maintain a strong relationship and carry out healthy dialogues, with zeal to bring change, she would keep voting for him/her (no matter what the outcome is), Mejura said.
She opined that the candidate she voted for is young, energetic and smart. He is also someone with a vision and with the proper mindset and support, and capable of bringing change.
Sevelu Lohe from 18 Chozuba AC, who also voted according to her free will, underlined that ‘for many females, hailing from a Naga household, it becomes mandatory to follow the norms of the household lead by the males’.
She added that her decision to vote for the candidate was based on his works, actions, accomplishments and his dealings with the public. The candidate to her was a humble person who showed no favouritism and treated everyone the same. She chose to vote for him because of his integrity and love for his people.
“A good leader should have the zest and enthusiasm for his people and bring light in times of great adversity and prosperity. I can say with honesty that the vast majority have experienced this through him. A leader loved by all, and a leader who loves his people”, Lohe said.
Meanwhile, the first women minister of Nagaland, Salhoutuonuo Kruse, in a message to women on Tuesday said: “Let them be happy, courageous, work hard and try to reach their dreams”.