Nagas agree to hold ULB polls with women reservation

  • | Wednesday | 9th March, 2022

Kohima, Mar 9 (PTI) Representatives from across the Naga society on Wednesday unanimously agreed that elections to urban local bodies (ULBs) in Nagaland should be held with 33 per cent reservation for women. They also appealed to negotiators of the Naga political issue to heed people"s yearning for an early solution. The two-point resolution was unanimously adopted during a consultative meeting of all stakeholders including mass-based civil society organisations, churches, tribal bodies, political parties and NGOs convened by the state government in the presence of legislators. It was attended by more than 150 Naga leaders and intellectuals. In a welcome gesture for the women in the state, it was decided in the meeting that ULB polls should be held as per the 74th amendment of the Constitution of India, which grants 33 per cent reservation to women in ULBs. In 2017, when the state government had tried to conduct municipal and town council elections as per the 74th amendment of the Constitution, the tribal hohos and civil societies opposing its implementation had said that women reservation in ULBs would infringe on the special rights guaranteed by Article 371 (A). The issue had led to a serious law and order problem, claiming the lives of two people, besides causing damage to private and government properties, and also leading to the change in T R Zeliang’s chief ministership with that of Shurhozelie Liezietsu. Nonetheless, in Wednesday"s consultative meeting following the explanations of Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio and Advocate General of Nagaland K N Balgopal that the 74th Amendment is different and will not infringe on rights guaranteed by Article 371 (A), Naga representatives agreed to hold ULB elections with women reservation, government spokespersons Neiba Kronu and Mmhonlumo Kikon told reporters after the meeting. During the meeting, it was also resolved that the Naga people yearn for an early political solution and the negotiating parties should earnestly heed this call and arrive at a political solution that is honourable, inclusive, transparent and acceptable to the people. The attendees appealed to all sections to make renewed efforts for unity to work towards one solution and one agreement. The Working Committee of Naga National Political Groups (WC NNPGs) had on Tuesday said that the state government should focus on the affairs of the state and leave the Naga political discussions to the negotiating parties. On this, Kronu, who is also a senior cabinet minister, while accepting that the Naga political groups are the negotiators, however, said, "We all are stakeholders and we all are involved." Iterating that the state government is an active facilitator of the Naga peace process, he said that everyone wants an early solution and it is now up to Naga civil society groups to organise public meetings and work to bring all sections, including the negotiators, together for an early solution. He said that the previous consultative meeting was held on October 15, 2020, in which Naga People"s Front and some other political parties had not attended. However, this meeting was held after the formation of the oppositionless United Democratic Alliance (UDA) and everyone was in consensus for an early solution. Kronu said that Rio, Deputy Chief Minister Y Patton and UDA chairman T R Zeliang will go to Delhi on Thursday to meet Union Home Minister Amit Shah. The resolutions were unanimously adopted after a threadbare discussion on the two specific issues with different stakeholders sharing their opinions, said Kikon, who is an advisor to the chief minister. "This time, we are not only making an appeal but asking the negotiators to heed to the voice of the people for an early solution," he quipped. The consultative meeting was very significant as Naga leaders from all walks of life had attended it and appealed to the negotiating parties for an early solution, he said. The government"s role as an active facilitator to the negotiations is very limited and therefore consultations are very important because the outcome is going to impact the people in putting forward the voice of the people to the negotiating parties, he said. On the decision to have ULB elections with women reservation, Kikon said, "It is a historic day for Nagaland as everybody has agreed to go for it because we need development in the state." With the inability of the government to hold the ULB elections, the Supreme Court had recently set six weeks’ time for the state government to bring out a formula to implement women reservation in ULBs and to conduct elections to three municipalities and more than 20 town councils. The resolution was appended by Rio, Patton and Zeliang. PTI NBS ACD ACD

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