Voters don’t just choose their candidates in Nagaland. They spend to let the world know who they’re voting for.
Villages, urban localities, clans of tribes, sub-clans and individuals have been on a space-buying spree, bombarding local newspapers with ‘declaration’ ads.
These declarations are pledges of support for this or that candidate.
Sample this. “We the undersigned members (75 names) from Akumen village under 30 Alongtaki A/C strongly support Independent candidate Shri Maotoshi Longkumer for the forthcoming assembly election 2013.”
A second declares the support of 61 households of Kevijau Colony in Dimapur for SI Jamir, Congress candidate for Dimapur-II assembly constituency.
Another had the names of 86 households of Tokugha village printed in support of Naga People’s Front candidate Khekiho Zhimomi for Ghaspani-I seat.
There are more, varying from four-five inserts per day in low-circulation dailies to 12-15 per day in newspapers with high circulations.
The flow of these ads began after the announcement of elections and is likely to continue till a day before polling on February 23.
“The ads before finalisation of names of candidates were to influence party leaderships. Ads after the final list are either out of affection for a candidate or intended to influence voters. The ads work both ways: the candidate gets free publicity
and the people pledging support use them for favour in cash or kind,” a Kohima-based clean election activist said seeking anonymity.
Nagaland’s election department said the media certification and monitoring committees were looking into these declarations of support.