Nagaland election 2023: Election Commission assures ‘peaceful’ polling
Kohima Jan. 14 (EMN): The Election Commission of India (ECI) on Saturday assured that the upcoming Assembly election in Nagaland will be “peaceful”, despite some sections of the society demanding solution to Naga political issue before the election and to abstain from the electoral process.
Chief Election Commissioner Rajiv Kumar said this at a press conference held at Hotel de Oriental Grand in Kohima.
He is in the state along with his team, including Election Commissioners Anup Chandra Pandey and Arun Goel, to review the poll preparedness for the upcoming Assembly election. The entourage arrived in state on Friday after visiting visiting two other poll-bound north-eastern states – Tripura and Meghalaya.
The chief election commissioner assured that “sufficient” companies of central forces will be deployed during the election to deal with the challenge and the situation. “We are sure that it will be peaceful” as have been assured by the authorities, he added.
There will be optimal deployment of these forces across the state based on the requirement and ensure that the electoral process is not affected, he said.
Chief Electoral Officer of Nagaland, V. Shashank Shekhar, had earlier told this newspaper that the ECI had approved 305 companies of Central Police Armed Forces (CAPF) for the upcoming state Assembly election against 281 companies in 2018 poll.
On the date of election, the chief election commissioner said that his team had consulted with the authorities of all the three poll-bound states — Tripura, Meghalaya and Nagaland – during their visit. He added that the commission will decide and announce the poll dates after going back to Delhi and take the entire situation into consideration.
The 2018 Nagaland Assembly election was held on February 27, before the results were declared after counting the votes on March 3.
‘No tolerance policy’ on drugs, cash
“We will have no tolerance policy” on things like cash, liquor and drugs, said the official, adding that the entire border areas and major roads connecting the borders will have check posts and check points round the clock.
The ECI has directed the enforcement agencies to make sure that there are no money power, muscle power, liquor and drugs in particular during the election.
Specifically, drugs should not be used during elections and should not be allowed to get it from anywhere, be it in the state or border areas, it said, while directing the enforcement agencies to identify the kingpins or those who secretly supply banned substances to the states.
The authorities were instructed to be alert on proxy voting and impersonation. Consensus candidate practice will not valid in a democratic process, said Kumar.
The ECI also asked banks to keep a watch on transaction of large amount and record as ‘suspicious transactions’. It also directed them not to allow their cash dispensing vans between 5 am and 9 pm, saying that it can be misused by some vested interest.
Besides directing police forces to be extremely vigilant in matters of unethical practices, the officials also urged the citizens to report unethical practices by taking photos and videos and upload it on the cVIGIL mobile application, after which action will be taken.
On ENPO’s stand
Replying to a question on the decision of the Eastern Nagaland Peoples’ Organisation (ENPO) to abstain from participating in the electoral process until their demand for a separate state is fulfilled, the chief election commissioner said that they will conduct election in the state before the tenure of the incumbent NLA expires on March 12.
“The Election Commission is mandated in the Constitution to conduct elections, to declare results so that the duly elected government is in place before the term of the present assembly expires. We are duty bound to do that,” Kumar said.
On Ladigarh issue
With regard to Ladigarh in Assam-Nagaland border along the Disturbed Area Belt, the official said that the commission will give “detailed instructions” to DG and CS of Assam and that they would provide “full help and full support and full corporation” for registered voters (of Nagaland) to vote.
‘They will help in the movement of all the election-related machinery and the poll will be held smoothly. The meetings between the bordering chiefs have already taken place and another round of meetings will be held,’ he added.
The total number of electorates in Nagaland stands at 13,09,651 with 6,53,616 male voters and 6,56,035 female voters. The state also has 7,981 service voters, PwDs – 6970, senior citizens (80+) – 36,403, centenarians (100+) – 1675, and first time voters – 30049.
While encouraging senior citizens to come to the polling station, he said ‘vote from home’ facility will be made available to those who cannot turn up. The commission will go to their homes and fetch their votes. In this regard, forms will be made available for them to apply for the facility on the fifth day of the nominations.
Similar facility will also be made available for the PwDs who cannot come to the polling station. For those PwDs willing to come out and participate in the polling, facilities like ramps with proper gradient, priority in voting, postal ballot, sample braille ballot, wheel chair, volunteers, pick and drop, dedicated parking, and PwD App (Saksham) will be made available to facilitate services at polling station.
In case of absence of voter ID card at the PS, one can use any ID card issued by the central government to cast their votes, it was informed.
Voting will be conducted in 2,315 polling stations across the state, out of which 10 will be managed by Persons with Disabilities and 196 by women, it was informed.
All the polling stations are equipped, Kumar said, adding the commission had directed the authorities to ensure that facilities are available at the polling booths. Facilities include ramps with proper gradient, accessible polling stations, volunteers available, drinking water, waiting shed, toilet with water facility, and adequate lighting.