The Naga Students’ Federation (NSF) has articulated a compelling stance ahead of the Urban Local Body (ULB) elections in Nagaland, advocating for exclusive representation of indigenous Naga individuals in these electoral contests. Their assertion, emphasizing the importance of preserving Naga identity and agency in governance, resonates deeply with the socio-political landscape of Nagaland.

By advocating for the exclusion of non-indigenous individuals, including women married to non-locals and their offspring, from participating in the ULB elections, the NSF underscores the inherent connection between governance, culture, and identity. This stance reflects the need to safeguard the interests and aspirations of the indigenous Naga people amidst evolving democratic processes.

The NSF’s advocacy extends beyond mere participation in electoral processes; it emphasizes the imperative of ensuring exclusive indigenous representation in decision-making bodies at the local level. Several federating units of the NSF, including the Lotha Students’ Union and the All Sümi Students’ Union, have publicly supported this stance.

In urging all stakeholders to uphold the sanctity of indigenous representation, the NSF reaffirms its role as guardians of Naga interests. However, under Indian constitutional provisions and jurisdiction, the NSF’s advocacy for exclusive indigenous representation in ULB elections appears to undermine the principles of democracy and inclusivity, posing significant challenges to the promotion of equality and social cohesion.

The ULB elections are governed by Indian constitutional provisions, wherein seat reservations and the right to stand for election apply to all eligible women. Amendments to the Nagaland Municipal Act in concurrence with Article 371A of the Indian constitution would be necessary to reserve the 33% reservation exclusively for women of Naga descent. However, such amendments are unlikely to occur.

A Naga woman is a Naga for life, and marriage does not alter this natural fact. It can be argued that in legal terms, a Naga woman by birth does not lose her identity as a Naga, even though she marries a non-Naga. The ‘Naganess’ of her children may be debated, but the status of the Naga mother remains unchanged. From the perspective of customary law, a Naga woman might be considered to have lost her Naganess if she marries a non-Naga. However, it’s important to note that ULB elections do not fall under the jurisdiction of Naga customary law. This is why the 33% reservation for women was granted in the first place after the intervention of the Supreme Court.
This issue is likely to spark controversy.

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