Despite the opposition from various sections of the civil society, the Nagaland State Election Commission has just notified the Election Program for the general elections to the Municipal and Town Councils in Nagaland to be held on May 16. For the first time in 20 years, Nagaland will be holding elections to the Urban Local Bodies (ULBs). For Mokokchung, it’s more than 20 years because we objected and did not participate in the 2004 ULB elections when it was held in the rest of the state.

 

The All Ward Union Mokokchung Town (AWUMT), along with the Association of Kohima Municipal Ward Panchayat (AKMWP) and the Dimapur Urban Council Chairmen Federation (DUCCF) are demanding that the ULB elections be held only after amending the Nagaland Municipal Act, 2001 by deleting certain provisions and sections of the Act that infringes upon Article 371-A of the Constitution of India. In 2017, violent protests erupted when the government made its bid to conduct the ULB elections with 33% reservation of seats for women resulting in the loss of lives and public properties and even forcing the incumbent CM TR Zeliang to step down and the government to retract. The civic elections were then postponed indefinitely. It is hoped that good sense would prevail this time, and that contentious issues, if any, would be settled in the interest of the greater good.

 

Meanwhile, as a society, the people of Mokokchung town and in fact the people of all the urban centers where the ULB elections are to be held must be mentally prepared to get over the recently held assembly election hangover. This time, if the ULB elections are to be held, we will not be voting for the legislative assembly but for our own localities. Use of money and muscle power should be condemned by one and all. The ULB election is also presenting us an opportunity to practice clean elections.

 

Concerned citizens, civil bodies, NGOs, political parties, the authorities and all stakeholders should also educate the people about the relevance and importance of ULB elections so that they can make informed decisions and exercise their franchise. This is particularly important for Mokokchung because it is going to be the first time ever that a ULB election is being held here. Remember, this is not the assembly election.

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