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Nagaland Electoral Politics

Name-Sedevinuo Metha
M.A Political Science (2nd Semester)
Department- AISS

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Nagaland is in the north eastern part of India and is considered, “The Land of Festivals”. The province of Nagaland is novel I the light of the fact that it is the only state in the Indian Union made out of a political agreement . Nagaland under article 371(A) prohibits the Indian Parliament from making laws that interfere with the Naga customary law and practices, without the assent of the Nagaland State Assembly .Nagaland Lok Sabha participated in its first general election in 1967 after joining the Union in 1963.

One of the most featuring issues in electoral process in Nagaland is the discourse of women’s exclusion from the electoral process. Naga Society from the very beginning has been a patriachail Society.There is a visible pattern of men dominating the political system in Nagaland, whereas the participation and representation of women in politics is invisible. This result in women being outside the centers of decision-making in terms of influence and status that is available to men. There is no Panchayati Raj system in Nagaland but it is replaced by a Village Council. The recent Legislative Assembly election was held in 2018 t, the NPF have emerged as the biggest party, winning 27 seats, NDPP has won 16 seats while BJP takes 11.



The State of Nagaland state is a green luscious land with beautiful hills and peaks in the northeastern piece of India. It is a land of folklore passed down the generations through word of mouth and. It is inhabited by people who call themselves “Nagas”. The Nagas have a place with the Mongolian Race. Initially, the Nagas did not call themselves by that name. It was the general population from outside who gave the name ‘Naga’ to them. Nagaland has a very pleasant climate throughout the year. Agriculture is the most imperative economic activity. Other noteworthy economic activity includes forestry, tourism, insurance, real estate, and miscellaneous cottage industries. As indicated by the 2011 census there are 2 million people living in Nagaland. Nagaland is known in India as the land of festivals. The diversity of people and tribes, each with their own culture and heritage, makes a year-long air of festivities.

It is encompassed by Assam in the West, Myanmar (Burma) on the east, Arunachal Pradesh and part of Assam on the North and Manipur in the South. The State is inhabited by 16 major tribes along with other sub-tribes. Each tribe is distinct in character from the other in terms of customs, language and dress. Each of the 16 odd tribes and sub-tribes that dwell in this exotic hill State can easily be distinguished by the colourful and intricately designed costumes, jewellery and beads that they adorn. Nagaland is sometimes referred to as the Switzerland of the East. . It is secured with delightful scenes, the dynamically beautiful dawn and nightfall and an assortment of widely varied flora and Fauna. The traditional ceremonial attire of each tribe is very unique. The Spears are multi coloured and the daos (Local Sword) are decorated with dyed goats hair and the headgear is made of finely woven bamboo interlaced with orchid stems, adorned with boar’s teeth and hornbill’s feathers, elephant tusk armlets.

It is encompassed by Assam in the West, Myanmar (Burma) on the east, Arunachal Pradesh and part of Assam on the North and Manipur in the South. The State is possessed by 16 noteworthy clans alongside other sub-clans. Every clan is particular in character from the other as far as traditions, dialect and dress. Every one of the 16 odd clans and sub-clans that abide in this intriguing slope State can without much of a stretch be recognized by the brilliant and unpredictably planned outfits, gems and globules that they decorate. Nagaland is once in a while alluded to as the Switzerland of the East. . It is secured with delightful scenes, the powerfully excellent sunrise and dusk and an arrangement of broadly fluctuated widely varied vegetation. The conventional formal clothing of every clan is exceptionally special. The Spears are multi hued and the daos (Local Sword) are brightened with colored goats hair and the headgear is made of finely woven bamboo intertwined with orchid stems, embellished with hog’s teeth and hornbill’s quills, elephant tusk armlets.

Nagaland is exceptional on the grounds that it is the only state in the Indian Union created out of a political agreement. The signing of the Sixteen Point Agreement in July 1960 between the Prime Minister of India and representatives of Naga People’s Convention paved the way for the creation of Nagaland .Nagaland was formally inaugurated on December 1st, 1963 as the 16th State of the Indian Union. There are 12 Districts in Nagaland, Noklak being recently added as the 12th district in 2017. The 12 districts are :-Dimapur, Kiphire, Kohima, Longleng, Mokokchung, Mon, Peren, Phek, Tuensang, Wokha, Zunheboto, Noklak.

Nagaland Government
The Government of Nagaland was first formed in 1964, a year after the state came with the existence . P. Shilu Ao was the first C.M of Nagaland and it is currently headed by Neiphiu Rio.

1. Governor of Nagaland
The Governor of Nagaland is appointed by the President of India for a period of 5 years. He functions as the executive and legislative head of the state. The governor appoints the chief minister, whose council of ministers are collectively responsible to the assembly. Given that he has the confidence of the assembly, the chief minister’s term is for five years and is subject to no term limits.

2. Chief Minister of Nagaland
The Chief Minister of Nagaland is the chief executive of the state of Nagaland. As per the Constitution of India, the governor is the Nominal head of the state but the real executive authority rests with the chief minister. Following elections to the Nagaland Legislative Assembly, the state’s governor usually invites the party (or coalition) with a majority of seats to form the government. Since 1963, ten people belonging to seven parties have served as Chief Minister of Nagaland. The first three belonged to the Naga Nationalist Organisation, including P. Shilu Ao. The current CM is Neiphiu Rio of the Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party, in office since 8 March 2018.

3. Ministers of Nagaland
The Government of Nagaland comprises of 11 cabinet ministers.. The Cabinet of the state of Nagaland forms the executive branch of the Government of Nagaland. The Nagaland Vidhan Sabha (Nagaland Legislative Assembly) comprises of 60 members (MLA), members are elected for five years. There are two types of the minister in state government, which is determined by the position or review. The superior or primary being Cabinet Ministers “Cabinet Minister” and the junior or secondary being “minister of State”.

4. Legislature of Nagaland.
The Legislature of Nagaland is controlled by the Legislative Assembly of the state and plays a monumental Role in the Nagaland Legislative Assembly. The Members of the legislative Assembly are the elected representatives from various constituencies of Nagaland. There are 60 Assembly constituencies in Nagaland. The Cabinet Minister of Nagaland is the main in-charge of a ministry. A cabinet minister may also hold additional charges of other Ministries if no other cabinet ministers are appointed to take charge of those ministries. All Cabinet members are mandated by the constitution to be members of the Vidhan Sabha of Nagaland.

The political history of Nagaland
While Article 370, which gives special status to Jammu & Kashmir, is much debated, a similar article, article 371(A) prohibits the Indian Parliament from making laws that meddle with the Naga customary law and practices, without the consent of the Nagaland State Assembly. Given the ethnic diversity in India, Nagaland is given special benefits because unlike most parts of India, Naga National Council (NNC), which under the leadership of Angami Zapu Phizo, proclaimed its independence one day before India gained independence on 14th August 1947 along with another Naga interest group asking the Simon Commission in 1929 to consider Nagas a separate identity from Indians. The Indian government denied the request of a separate Nagalim state (which would include Naga-dominated areas of Nagaland, Assam, Manipur and also Myanmar). This fuelled an insurgency in the state, which constrained India to introduce AFSPA to neutralize the hardliners and article 371(A) to appease the separatist tendencies when Nagaland became a state in 1963.

Nagaland’s ‘extraordinary history’ has prompted the development of an apex body of 18 tribal organisations to protect their interests, called Naga Hoho. Naga Hoho is an organisation that called for a “solution” to the Naga Peace Process before the elections and hence asked all political parties to boycott the assembly elections till a final solution was in place. It changed its slogan over the past two decades. In 1997, it was “Nagas want solution, not election”. In 2018, it was “Solution before election”.

Elections in Nagaland
Nagaland became the 16th state of the Indian Union on 1 December 1963. Prior, in 1957, Nagaland was an autonomous district in Assam consisting of Tuensang and Naga hills division of the Assam. In 1961, following the Naga people’s demand, the Indian Government agreed to the formation of a separate state of Nagaland. Prior to the first election in Nagaland for its Vidhan Sabha elections were held, the state constituted an Interim Body of 42 members with an interim executive council headed by a Chief Executive Officer. Dr Imkongliba Ao, the founder of the Naga People’s Convention became the Chairman of the Interim Body. Mr P Shilo was designated the first Executive Councilor and after the elections to the state assembly became the first chief minister of the state. Mr. S.C Jamir was the first member of the Parliament from the state. He was assigned to the third Lok Sabha by the Interim Body. Mr Melhupra Vero was the first Rajya Sabha MP from the state. Abhijit Sinha is the chief electoral officer of Nagaland. Nagaland has a unicameral legislature consisting of one house i.e. the state legislative assembly called the Vidhan Sabha. The Vidhan Sabha consists of 60 directly elected members. The seat of the legislative assembly is at Kohima, the state capital. The Chief Electoral Officer of Nagaland is Abhijit Sinha.

The states are alloted seats in the Indian parliament on the basis of the population of the state. The ratio of the number of seats in the parliament and the population of the state is the same for all states in the country. As Nagaland has a low population, the whole state is represented by one member in the Lok Sabha and one in the Rajya Sabha, the two houses of the Indian Parliament. The Lok Sabha MP from Nagaland is directly elected from the Nagaland state parliamentary constituency.

Political Parties in Nagaland

1. National political parties in Nagaland
• Indian National Congress
• Bharatiya Janata Party
• Nationalist Congress Party
• Trinamool Congress

2. Regional parties in Nagaland
• Naga People’s Front (NPF)
• Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP) of Neiphiu Rio and Chingwang Konyak
• Naga National Democratic Party (NNDP)
• United Naga Democratic Party (UNDP)

Nagaland Legislative Assembly

Nagaland Legislative Assembly is the unicameral legislature of the Indian province of Nagaland. Nagaland became a state of India on 1 December 1963 and after elections in January 1964. The first Nagaland Legislative Assembly was formed on 11 February 1964. In 1974, the strength of the Legislative assembly was increased to the present strength of 60 members. Out of the total seats in the House, 20 are reserved for the SC candidates, while 10 are reserved for ST candidates. The rest of the 30 seats are for General candidates. There is no nominated member in the House, all the members are elected on the basis of adult franchise from single-seat constituencies. The normal tenure of the House is five years unless dissolved sooner. The seat of the House is Kohima, the capital of Nagaland.

The Legislative Assembly of Nagaland (Vidhan Sabha) is the real executive and legislative body of the state. The 60-member Vidhan Sabha who are all elected members of legislature, forms the government executive and is led by the Chief minister. Unlike most states in India, Nagaland has been granted a great degree of state autonomy, as well as special powers and autonomy for Naga tribes to conduct their own affairs. Each tribe has a hierarchy of councils at the village, range, and tribal levels dealing with local disputes.

The Democratic Alliance of Nagaland (DAN) is a state level coalition of political parties. It headed the government with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Janata Dal (United) (JDU). It was formed in 2003 after the Nagaland Legislative Assembly election, with the Naga People’s Front (NPF) and the BJP. The alliance has been in power in Nagaland since 2003.

Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha Members of Nagaland
There are total 1 parliamentary seats (Lok Sabha constituency seats), and 1 Rajya Sabha seats in Nagaland. I.e. 1 Lok Sabha MPs (Members of Parliament) and 1 Rajya Sabha MPs can be elected from Nagaland.

A. Lok Sabha members of Nagaland
Nagaland Lok Sabha participated in its first general election in 1967 and its first member of parliament (MP) was S. C. Jamir of the Nagaland Nationalist Organisation who was elected unopposed. In 1969, the Twenty-third Amendment of the Constitution of India discontinued the reservation of the seat to Scheduled Tribes.

Neiphiu Rio who was elected as the member of Lok Sabha from Nagaland parliamentary constituency resigned from his seat . He quitted the Naga People’s Front, the party he had formed after leaving the Congress in 2002, and joined a new party-Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP) to contest the assembly. The NDPP has tied up with the BJP and is contesting in 40 seats in the 60-member assembly, while the BJP is fighting in the remaining 20 seats.

• Number of Seats-1
• Member of parliament – Shri Neiphiu Rio
• Political Party –NPF

B. Rajya Sabha members of Nagaland
The state elects 1 member for the term of 6 years and indirectly elected by the state legislators, since year 1964. State elects 1 member for the term of 6 years and indirectly elected by the state legislators, since year 1964.

• Number of Seats-1
• Present Member of Parliament- K. G. Kenye
• Political Party –NPF (Nagas People’s Front)

Panchayati Raj System
Nagaland ,Meghalaya and Mizoram have no Panchyati Raj in light of the fact that these states are exempted under Article 243M(2) and furthermore enjoying Special Constitutional Provision under Article 371A, 371B, 371C,371F,371G,371H by the Constitution of India. They have an autonomous district ; Councils formed Under Sixth Schedule of Constitution, accoredingly these areas are ruled by self-govt. So there is no any Panchyati Raj System. But that as it may, Nagaland has a Village Council at the Village level.

Village Councils and Village Development Board in Nagaland
Village Councils are an essential segment of the modern governance system in Nagaland. While the District Planning and Development Boards give the required adaptability to guarantee a responsive and comprehensive approach towards advancement for the locale, linkages to the grassroots through the Village Development Boards ( VDB) have been set up for conveying the country formative sources of inputs. These linkages have turned out to be essential for decentralizing governance and decision-making in the post-independence and Statehood eras. As a prologue to the part of the Village Councils and Village Development Board in Nagaland, it is basic that the established arrangements with respect to the State as cherished in the Constitution of India are comprehended.

The Village Council is the overall authority for the administration of justice within the village. Under the Nagaland Village and Area Council Act, 1978, each perceived village in the State shall have a Village Council. Some of the powers and duties as enshrined in the said Act, provide for the following:

• To formulate Village Development Schemes to supervise proper maintenance of water supply, roads, forest, education and other welfare activities.

• To help various Govt. Agencies in carrying out development works in the village.

• To constitute a Village Development Board (VDB).

• To borrow money from the Govt., Banks or financial institutions for application in the development and welfare work of the village and to repay the same with or without interest as the case may be.

Village Development Board (VDB)
The VDB is a statutory body, functioning under the primary village authority known as Village Council. The institution of the VDBs, which are synonymous with the concept of decentralized grass root level planning in Nagaland, was first set up in 1976 in Ketsapomi village in Phek district on an experimental basis.

Women representation

In February 2017, elections to urban local body (ULB) elections in Nagaland caused some turmoil in the state along predictable lines when the cabinet decided to conduct municipal elections with 33% reservation for women . The powerful tribal bodies in the state have posed stiff opposition to the reservation of seats for women which constrained the CM (TR Zeliang) to resign. The outrage was a result of many interpreting the reservation for women as an assault on the Tribal Customary Law protected under article 371 (A).The essential factor for the low political participation of Naga women can be related with the traditional political system in the patriarchal Naga socio-cultural system, which excludes women from every decision-making institution in society, and consigns them in the domestic sphere. With the granting of statehood, even though a new democratic political system has been introduced in Naga society, it was simply superimposed on the previous social framework where the ladies were not given wherever in the governance of society. The last and often neglected aspect of Naga politics is the under representation of women. Nagaland has seen no woman MLA being elected and has provided only one woman MP back in 1977. Indeed, even after the 2018 assembly elections, Nagaland has no woman MLA, no steady government and all the more imperatively, no solution.

Kohima Village Council cautioned the Nagaland Government not to reserve seats for women in civic bodies. Kohima Village Council (KVC) warned the Nagaland government of an explosive situation if it goes ahead with the implementation of 33 percent reservation of seats for women in the urban local bodies of the state, a law that it passed recently. The village council claims that reservation for women is “contrary to Naga Culture” and “alien” to them. Article 371A(1) of the Constitution preserves the social and religious practices and customary laws of the Nagas. Rosemary Dzuvichu, a Naga feminist leader and adviser of the Naga Mothers Association, sees this move by the village council as patriarchal. Women activists and supporters of the government’s move felt these tribal bodies controlled by men didn’t want women to be a part of political decision making, like they do in customary bodies. The state government’s decision to hold the ULB polls with 33% reservation for women candidates has also been backed by the Centre. State governor P.B. Acharya conveyed this to the state government long before it decided to hold the polls. Widespread protests followed which led to the death of two people while several others suffered injured in clashes between the police and mobs. For several days groups of people rampaged government properties across the state. The people have not just blamed the Government but also the Naga Mothers’ Association (NMA) for the riot in Nagaland.

Nagaland Legislative Assembly election, 2018

The Nagaland Legislative Assembly election, 2018 was held on 27 February 2018 in 59 out of 60 constituencies of the Legislative Assembly of Nagaland. The scheduled election in Northern Angami II constituency did not take place as only incumbent MLA Neiphiu Rio was nominated and was therefore declared elected unopposed. The turnout was recorded to be 75%. The candidates who contested the polls were 196. Only 3 candidates have criminal cases and only 3 other candidates have serious criminal charges filed against them. Only 5% of the candidates in BJP have criminal charges filed against them, while the percentage is 3 and 2 for NDPP and NPF respectively.The counting of votes took place on 3 March 2018. 11 parties issued a statement calling for the postponement of the polls.

Even though the results were a hung verdict, The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) skillfully put itself in a position where it would not lose, even though it did not have the numbers to lead. The BJP-led National Democratic Alliance and the ruling Naga Peoples’ Front dissolved their electoral alliance prior to the election. The BJP instead chose to form an alliance with the newly formed Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party, led by former CM Neiphiu Rio. On the Election Day, there were reports of EVM malfunctioning. There were reports of violence as well. One person was reportedly shot dead and two others were injured. 9 parties registered to contest the election, as well as a further 11 independent candidates .

In the Nagaland assembly elections, NPF has emerged as the biggest party, winning 27 seats. NDPP has won 16 seats while BJP takes 11. The Nagaland Baptist Churches Council in an open letter, stated that India had experienced the worst persecution of minority communities in 2015-2017 under the RSS-backed BJP government. Abhijit Sinha, the chief electoral officer of Nagaland there have been a lot of problems about high expenditure and monetary inducements in during elections in Nagaland.Two political parties—the Naga People’s Front (NPF), led by outgoing chief minister T R Zeliang, and the Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP), led by Zeliang’s bitter rival and former chief minister, Neiphiu Rio—had emerged at the top of the table with the NPF bagging 27 seats (four short of a majority in the house of 60) and the NDPP 17. The NDPP is a very new political party which Rio formed in the last few weeks before the elections after breaking away from the NPF. The BJP managed to return a credible 12 seats, while the remaining four seats were shared between National People’s Party (two seats), Janata Dal (United) (one seat), and Independent (one seat)

In summary, Nagaland elections are fought more on tribal, village and individual lines than by manifestos or ideologies of political parties. The Nagaland Baptist Churches Council was not happy with the coming of BJP in the state. The church leader was wary about the political ambitions of the BJP in the three Christian dominated states of Meghalaya, Nagaland and Mizoram. Another aspect of Nagaland politics is that personality matters more than ideology. This explains how a Hindutva party BJP, has been able to break through the ranks in a state where approximately 90% of the electorate is Christian. The Naga Baptist Church Council issued statements cautioning against the rise of BJP in Nagaland. BJP and Congress in order to win over the Christian vote bank, the Congress manifesto offered subsidised pilgrimage to Jerusalem for the state’s Christians while the BJP offered free trips to Jerusalem for 50 senior citizens every year.

The Naga Society can also be seen as Patriarchal dominated by Male population which takes major decisions in the society. Even though the Constitution provides for 33% reservation of seats for women in Lower house the women in Nagaland were denied the rights to elect in the urban local body (ULB) elections in 2017. The Tribal leaders claimed that the reservation for women in the decision making bodies is contrary to Naga Culture. In the State assembly elections of 2018, NPF has emerged as the biggest party, winning 27 seats. NDPP has won 16 seats while BJP takes 11

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