Elections in Nagaland: Challenges and the way forward ~ Moatula Nancy Longkumer

“Elections are a farce”


Elections to the Nagaland Legislative Assembly are normally held once every five years. The elected representatives represent their respective constituencies and are responsible for development of their constituency. However, over the past many decades, it has been noticed that the election system here has resulted in electing undeserving candidates and formation of inefficient governments that has resulted in corruption and misery for the people.


There are many major challenges to the election system, one of them being ‘Consensus Candidates’. Some village councils, town committees, associations, etc. choose a candidate and force their members to vote for that particular person. This is illegal and against an individual’s right to choose freely. The solution to this major ill would be for the government and courts to strictly ban such practices and sternly punish, jail terms included, those who issue illegal dictates. Dissolving the village/town council, stopping government schemes, de-recognizing the association could help prevent similar future acts.


Another problem faced is ‘Booth Capturing’. In some polling booths, some political parties, in association with officials, forcefully capture the booths to cast votes for their candidate or to destroy the booth to prevent voting. This can be prevented by arresting the perpetrators, disqualifying their candidate/party. Government officials found aiding these illegal acts should be suspended or terminated from service. Multiple CCTVs should be installed in all the booths to record as evidence the events and perpetrators.


Then there is proxy voting. Many political parties indulge in proxy voting where voters’ ID cards of voters either deceased, transferred or missing but present in the electoral rolls are used to cast votes in favour of their candidates. This is illegal and punishable by law. To prevent this, electoral rolls must be constantly updated and any voters found carrying a voter ID (EPIC) that does not belong to him/her must be arrested on the spot strictly punished to prevent further occurrences. Those found issuing fake IDs should also be dealt with similarly.


Again, there is the use of money to buy votes or influence the voting process. Despite the Election Commission of India putting a limit on the amount of money a candidate can spend on an election, political parties here spend ridiculous sums of money running into hundreds of crores. Voters and many polling officials are offered money to vote in their favour or to favourably facilitate the voting process in any manner possible, mostly illegal. As a preventive measure, political candidates caught indulging in such malpractices should be suspended or disqualified immediately. Proper accounting records attached to one single bank account of the candidate should be strictly monitored and audit of that account by an autonomous agency should be done before the results are declared. Candidates found spending beyond limit should be disqualified. Individuals caught offering money to voters/polling officials should be arrested immediately and punishment awarded to them.


Not only money, but some political parties use the threat of physical violence by means of bombs, guns and thugs to force voters to either vote for them or to prevent voters from voting so that the polling booths can be manipulated to their advantage. Polling officials are also subjected to such threats sometimes. To prevent this, the parties/candidates caught in threatening voters/officials should be immediately disqualified and the guilty caught on the spot should be severely punished.


Finally, many political parties/candidates manipulate the electoral roll of their constituencies by adding many fictitious voter names and addresses to it. This can be done only in collaboration with government officials who have access to the concerned records. To prevent this, any government servant indulging in such manipulation should be immediately terminated from service and the candidate/party found influencing the officials should be suspended or disqualified.


In conclusion, the above few instances are the major ills plaguing our electioneering process in Nagaland. No doubt, there are laws issued by the ECI to conduct free and fair elections, but due to the indifference of the general public to illegal election malpractices and due to the presence of corrupt government officials in the election process, our most basic rights are denied in the long run. As long as we the public remain silent to these evil practices, as long as we sell our votes and as long we fail to realize how much our lives are impacted by electing corrupt and ineffective public leaders, we as a society and as individuals will not progress. The church in Nagaland has, for the past few elections, initiated a Clean and Free Election Campaign to try and clean up our election system but if we the public and members of the church do not cooperate with the guidelines provided by our own churches, our elections will never be clean and fair and there will be no proper governance in our state.


“When we vote, we take back our power to choose, to speak up, and to stand with those who support us and each other” –Loung Ung.


This essay won the 1st Position during the Essay Writing Competition organized by District Administration and District Election Office, Mokokchung under SVEEP Campaign 2022. The writer is a student of Mayangnokcha Higher Secondary School.

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