In a peculiar turn of events, traditional tribal bodies of Nagaland that are opposed to granting quota to women in civic bodies’ elections, have threatened candidates of ex-communication and even ‘expulsion’ from their respective tribes if they did not withdraw from the fray.
The traditional organisations including Naga Hoho, the apex tribal body of the state have been opposing holding the civic elections on the ground that granting quota to women amounted to infringing upon Naga customary laws and tradition as protected under Article 371(A) of the Constitution of India.
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While 535 candidates had filed their nominations despite the opposition, altogether 68 have withdrawn in the wake of the threats, leaving 467 in the fray as withdrawal of nominations ended on Monday. The ruling Naga People’s Front (NPF) and its ally BJP have on their part warned their party candidates against withdrawal.
The Nagaland state assembly, which had in September 2012 adopted a resolution opposing reservation for women, had in November 2016 revoked that decision and passed a fresh resolution, thus paving way for holding municipal elections that have not been held since Article 243(T) of the Constitution came into force.
When the boycott call evoked little response, the tribal bodies Saturday onwards have started issuing ex-communication and boycott threats to the candidates irrespective of sex and party affiliation.
Meanwhile, the Joint Action Committee for Women’s Rights (JACWR) headed by Naga Mothers’ Association (NMA) has assured the state government that it would soon withdraw the special leave petition it had filed in the Supreme Court in 2013 demanding 33 per cent quota for women.
“The decision of the state government to hold elections with reservation for women has made our case filed in the Supreme Court infructuous. We will withdraw the SLP provided the ongoing process of elections to the urban local bodies is completed as notified by the state government,” said a press release issued by the JACWR said. The JACWR also appealed to the tribal organisations to desist from using threats and intimidations to the candidates so that the election was completed without any hindrance.