Urban local body polls likely to be held in Nagaland in April after 20 years

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Kohima, March 5 (IANS) The much-awaited elections to the Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) in Nagaland are likely to be held in April after a gap of 20 years, officials said here on Tuesday.

Municipal elections in Nagaland were first held in 2004, and the terms of the civic bodies ended in 2009-10.

The State Election Commission (SEC) has initiated a special summary revision of the electoral rolls for the ULB elections, including municipal polls.

An official of the SEC said that the commission would announce the schedule of the ULB elections only after the announcement of the Lok Sabha polls.

Earlier on several occasions, the Nagaland government had announced to conduct elections to the ULBs, but strong opposition from the tribal bodies and civil society organisations against 33 per cent reservation for women and tax on land and properties had held back the polls.

In 2017, violent protests were witnessed after the then Naga People’s Front government led by former Chief Minister T.R. Zeliang tried to hold the elections, leading to the killing of two persons besides injuring many, while government properties and offices were also vandalised and damaged.

The agitations eventually led to the fall of the Zeliang government.

After the directions of the Supreme Court, the incumbent Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio-led opposition-less government had announced to conduct the ULB elections with 33 per cent reservation for women in March last year.

However, due to renewed protests, the government cancelled the elections and also repealed the concerned act of 2001 in March last year.

Subsequently, after extensive consultations with the tribal bodies, Naga tribal hohos, civil society organisations and all the stakeholders, the state Assembly in November last year passed the new Nagaland Municipal Act 2023 with 33 per cent reservation for women.

Provisions related to taxes, land and buildings have been excluded from the Nagaland Municipal Act.

Article 371A grants special protection to the Nagas in Nagaland on traditional, customary, religious and social practices and also on ownership and transfer of land and its resources.

In its latest direction, the Supreme Court had directed the state government on December 11 last year to complete the entire process of ULB elections by April 30, 2024.

Many powerful Naga organisations had earlier claimed that reservation for women in ULBs would go against their community’s customary laws.

In Nagaland, over 95 per cent of the land and its resources belong to the people and the communities, while the government owns only about 5 per cent of the total area, including reserve forests, roads.

The cultural, societal, traditional and religious practices, and land and land resources in Nagaland are protected under Article 371A, which is also exempted from the 73rd Amendment to the Constitution for the setting up of municipalities.

But the 74th Amendment did not provide for that exemption on the ground that the state’s urban administrations were not part of the customary practices.



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