What started as opposition to 33% reservation for women in urban local body (ULB) polls in Nagaland ended with chief minister TR Zeliang quitting his post to be replaced by Nagaland Peoples’ Front (NPF) president Shurhozelie Liezietsu on Monday.
Amid political drama and the statewide strike by traditional tribal organizations demanding Zeliang’s ouster, the issue of ULB polls with reservation for women got sidelined.
“It is unfortunate the issue got politicized. Hopefully the new chief minister will continue consultations and hold the election with reservation for women,” said Abeiu Meru, president of Nagaland Mothers’ Association (NMA).
Women groups-led by NMA had filed a special leave petition in Supreme Court seeking holding of elections with women reservation. They decided to withdraw the petition last month, after the state government decided to hold the ULB polls.
Opposition from tribal bodies against holding elections with 33% seats for women and the deaths and destruction in the ensuing violence had forced Zeliang’s Democratic Alliance of Nagaland (DAN) government to declare the ULB polls as null and void.
In a bid to diffuse the crisis and save his chair, Zeliang’s cabinet also decided earlier this month to request the Centre to keep the state outside the purview of the Part IX-A of the Constitution, which provides for “not less than one-third” of the total seats for women in municipalities.
“What was supposed to be a social movement took strange directions when politically-vested interests started to steer it,” Zeliang said in his farewell speech to NPF legislators in Kohima on Monday.
As reported earlier, tribal bodies in Nagaland feel reservation for women in municipal bodies would violate Article 371A of the Constitution, which provide special status to Nagaland regarding preservation of customary laws.
“I can’t do magic even if I take over but I have a strong feeling together we can achieve our goal,” Shurhozelie said on Monday in a statement issued by the CM’s media cell.
But there was no mention what stand his government will take on the contentious issue of reservation for women in municipal bodies.
“We don’t know what the new CM would do. But we will continue our campaign to ensure women get reservation in ULBs,” Meru said.