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regular-article-logo Sunday, 16 June 2024

Nagaland commission urges ENPO to not boycott ULB elections

In a statement, the SEC, Nagaland, said the method adopted by the ENPO to express their stand on collective abstention from participating in the ULB election ‘needs a reasoned reconsideration’ and cited four reasons why the organisation, representing eight tribes from six districts from eastern Nagaland needs to review its stand

Umanand Jaiswal Guwahati Published 19.05.24, 06:43 AM
Representational image

Representational image File image

The State Election Commission (SEC) of Nagaland on Saturday requested the Eastern Nagaland Peoples’ Organisation (ENPO) to reconsider "its stance of asking citizens to abstain from participating" in the June 26 elections to the urban local bodies in the state.

In a statement, the SEC, Nagaland, said the method adopted by the ENPO to express their stand on collective abstention from participating in the ULB election “needs a reasoned reconsideration” and cited four reasons why the organisation, representing eight tribes from six districts from eastern Nagaland needs to review its stand.

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The ULB election assumes significance because it is being held after a gap of two decades, that too after the intervention of the Supreme Court. The last polls were held in 2004.

ENPO president R.T. Sangtam told The Telegraph on Wednesday that the six districts under the influential organisation’s jurisdiction decided not to take part in the municipal and town council polls as they had done by abstaining from the April 19 Lok Sabha polls in the state.

He also said they would not participate in any state or central elections till “our Frontier Nagaland Territory (FNT) arrangement is fulfilled”. The reasons forwarded by the SEC to the ENPO to reconsider its stand included the "constitutional right" of every eligible citizen to vote.

"Conversely, the option of not to vote is an understood extension of the right. This right, however, needs to be understood in the light of individual freedom and choice. Voting per se is singular, based on the principle of one person one vote; it is not a collective instrument."

"Therefore, it is a settled principle that an individual voter enjoys the freedom of conscience to exercise this right without any external or undue influence from any individual or organisation,” the SEC said.

The SEC further said the ULB election issue had been under the "supervision" of the Supreme Court and “…any attempt to disturb or disrupt the electoral process by any individual or organisation in violation of the court orders would potentially have serious legal ramifications”.

The SEC additionally said the “participation" of the local community in the electoral process is an essential requirement for incorporating the common aspirations and grievances" and that "the process is as much important as and an integral part of the outcomes".

The commission then said it was committed to holding free and fair elections as notified on April 29 and hoped people would be “able to freely and willingly participate in exercising the constitutional right to vote and/or to contest as is deemed necessary to discharge the vital functions of local self-governance”.

The decision to abstain from the ULB polls was based on the February 23 Chenmoho Resolution which had also led to them skipping the Lok Sabha polls.

Chenmoho is a village in Mon district.

The FNT is a “unique” arrangement between an autonomous council and a Union Territory offered by the MHA to the ENPO which had intimated the SEC about its decision to abstain on May 16.

The ENPO had been spearheading a movement for a separate state since 2010 because of the underdevelopment of the six districts compared with other areas of the state.

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