Intending candidates from eastern Nagaland region in tight spot
With the Election Commission of India (ECI) having announced the poll date for Nagaland on one hand and the Eastern Nagaland Peoples’ Organisation (ENPO) standing firm on its decision to abstain from participating in the electoral process on the other, some intending candidates from eastern region of the state, who have been preparing to contest the upcoming Assembly election, have found themselves in a tight spot.
The ECI on Wednesday fixed February 27 for election to the 14th Nagaland Legislative Assembly (NLA) amid ENPO reaffirming its stand to abstain from participating in upcoming state general election until the government of India grants its demand for a separate state.
Amid this state of affairs, an intending candidate, who is planning to contest election for first time, told this newspaper that ‘as a citizen of India, we have to abide by the Constitution with the ECI’s announcement’.
He said abstaining from election, which the ECI has already announced, is not feasible as it is mandated by constitution to conduct election and declare results. He went on to say that “it is a general election and not a Panchayat matter”.
In the mean time, he also said that he respects the ENPO’s decision ‘which is in the interest of eastern area and the people’.
Another intending candidate said that he was prepared to face any consequences to take part in the election, while opining that election is bound to take place in the state with the Election Commission having announced the poll date, as ‘we are mandated by the constitution (of India)’.
Meanwhile, another intending candidate said that he is preparing for the election, as first-timers like him will be at the receiving end if polling takes place.
‘With just a month for the state to go for poll, it cannot be ascertained if ENPO will continue to stand firm on its call as the ECI has already announced that it is duty bound to conduct election across the state. For that reason, I am already preparing my strategy while respecting the call of ENPO,’ he said.
‘If the call of ENPO is firm, I will abide by it; if not and other sitting MLAs file their nomination, we the first timers will be at the losing end. Therefore, I am already building up my strategy and will wait for the reaction,’ he added.
Attempts to speak to members of the Eastern Nagaland Legislature Union went unsuccessful.
It may be mentioned that just hours after the ECI announced the poll date for Nagaland on Wednesday, the Konyak Union declared that it had resolved to abide by the ENPO’s decision and “permanently expel those individual(s) filing nomination to participate in the NLA election, 2023 from the Konyak soil and the village of the person filing nomination shall be held solely responsible”.
It also endorsed and empowered the Konyak Nyupu Sheko Khong (KNSK), Konyak Students’ Union (KSU) and village councils to implement and act upon the resolution.
The Eastern Naga Students’ Federation (ENSF) has also directed officials of its federating units holding any designated post in any political entity to resign or withdraw their affiliation at the earliest.
The ENPO has also directed its apex tribal bodies not to conduct any kind of election campaign or declare candidates in the eastern areas until the Government of India fulfils its demand for a “Frontier Nagaland”.