Professionals, young leaders dominate poll scene in Nagaland
Many new faces from professional backgrounds and youths are trying their electoral fortunes in the March 5 assembly election in Nagaland.
Representing the entire spectrum of political outfits as well as independent candidates, these fresh contenders are even going out of party line of thinking and are speaking about change in Naga society, while many have chosen youth empowerment as a favoured issue to woo voters.
If there are over half a dozen medical practitioners, then an equal number of technocrats are in the fray.
Many civil servants, before reaching superannuation, and young Naga entrepreneurs are also contesting the elections.
Nagas with legal professional background are not new, and this election is no exception.
Although their perceptions and perspectives differ on issues confronting society, they are all comfortable with laptops and denim, media savvy, like to speak about change, and have equal concern for the growing unemployment problem.
Five former presidents of Naga Students Federation (NSF), a premier students body, NSN Lotha (Independent), Achumbeo Kikon (LJP), Neiba Krono (NPF) and Vikiho Sumi (NPF), Hokhet Shikhu (RJD) are facing the electorate in multi-corner contests in Tuyi (Wokha), Bhandari (Wokha), Pfutsero (Phek), Pughobot and Surohoto assembly segments respectively.
TN Mannen, the former additional chief secretary before his superannuation, joined RJD and is pitted against Nagaland Peoples Front (NPF) secretary Akang Ao at Impur seat in Mokokchung district. Both of them are from the same village.
In the prestigious Kohima town seat, bureaucrat turned politician Z Obed of Congress is facing NPF candidate Dr Nieki Kire, a new entrant.
Senior Congress leader and former minister KV Pusa is pitted against NPF candidate Dr Atha Vizol, a fresher and the doctor son of former chief minister Vizol, a patriarch of regionalism in Nagaland.
Two other prominent youth leaders, Abu Metha, Press secretary to former chief minister Neiphiu Rio and Savi Leigeisie, president of Dimapur Naga Council and a publisher of an English daily are contesting on NPF tickets from Dimapur-II and Dimapur-III seats respectively.
Abu Metha, the Editor of the English Daily Eastern Mirror, who led a youth movement, Excel, believed he could win as for the past three years he had worked for youth empowerment through music, sports and entrepreneurship development.
There are also a few retired technocrats and bureaurats in the fray.
Another interesting facet of this election is that many youth organizations have either issued guidelines for a free and fair election or invited contenders to a common platform to share their promises before the electorate.
Certain student bodies have asked political parties not to create a nuisance as students are appearing for HSLC and Higher Secondary examinations immediately after the assembly election.
In Nagaland, comprising 60 assembly segments, at least ten political parties are trying their electoral fortune. The electorate number 13 lakh.
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