Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio on Monday hinted that the civic polls scheduled on May 16 might not be held if tribal hohos and civil society organisations continue protesting against it.
The State Election Commission has notified elections to three municipal councils and 36 town councils on May 16, with 33 per cent reservation for women.Tribal organisations and civil society groups are, however, demanding that elections be held only after amending the Nagaland Municipal Act (NMA), 2001, which they contend, infringes upon Article 391(A) of the Constitution that gives special rights to Nagas on their lands and its resources, and safeguards their customs and traditions.
"The state government is acting only on the directive of the Supreme Court but if the tribal hohos, civil society bodies and Naga people don’t want the polls, the government is not prepared to confront them," he told reporters.
A consultative meeting of eight tribal hohos (organisations) observed that any part of the NMA that infringes upon Article 371A should be "reviewed and rewritten" in complete consonance with the voice of the Naga people. The Eastern Nagaland People's Organisation (ENPO) also said it would not allow the conduct of civic polls until NMA, 2001 was repealed.
ENPO said it participated in the recently held assembly polls following the Union Home Ministry's assurance that a mutually agreed upon solution would be reached for their Frontier Nagaland statehood demand but no agreement has been signed so far, so it will not participate in the civic polls.
Urban Local Body (ULB) polls were last held in the state in 2004. Since then, the polls were not held due to the unresolved Naga peace talks and other issues. In 2017, civic polls were cancelled after clashes left two dead and several others injured on the eve of the polling day. The Kohima Municipal Council office and adjoining government offices in the state capital were also set ablaze.