Chaos prevailed in several parts of Nagaland on Tuesday evening following the state government’s announcement to roll back its earlier decision and hold elections to urban local bodies on February 1 following a directive from the Gauhati High Court.
The move comes a day after the state government signed an agreement with the Joint Coordination Committee (JCC), comprising tribal bodies opposed to giving 33% reservation to women candidates, to postpone the polls by two months.
The mood in Nagaland changed quickly on Tuesday night, when the Naga Peoples’ Front (NPF) government headed by TR Zeliang acting on the HC directive decided to conduct polls in 12 of the 32 municipal bodies in the state.
As soon as the news spread, hundreds of youths came out on the streets in commercial hub Dimapur with spears, daggers and other arms to register their protest. They also appealed to others to do the same to prevent the polls from being held. The administration was forced to clamp curfew in some areas.
Subsequent to the deal with the state government on Monday, JCC had called off its ongoing bandh to protest against the polls. But following Tuesday’s HC order, the ‘bandh’ call was enforced again.
Due to a boycott call and threat of ex-communication by JCC, no candidate had filed nomination in 10 municipalities and in 3 urban bodies the candidates had won unopposed.
Following the state government’s request to the state election commission to postpone polls in seven ULBs, including Dimapur, for fear of law and order problems, election to those civic bodies have been postponed by two months.
Tuesday’s HC order came after a petition was filed seeking the court’s intervention to hold polls as “some extra-constitutional bodies, opposed to the elections, were creating hurdles”.
Nagaland has never elected a women legislator to the assembly since it gained statehood in 1963. The lone woman MP from the state was late Rano M Shaiza, who got elected in 1977.