In what is being seen as the manifestation of disenchantment with the current regime, this February election in Nagaland will witness the highest number of below 30-year-old candidates in the fray. There are two 25-year-olds, who are the youngest candidates to contest in the history of Nagaland Assembly elections. Fourteen candidates in the upcoming elections are aged between 25 to 35 years.
A new breed of changemakers is gunning for transformation in Nagaland where the sorry state of affairs in almost all aspects of public life continues to overshadow the achievements of the young Nagas. Social media activism had underlined the narrative of the young Nagas in the backdrop of growing corruption and misgovernance and it was not too often that the activism spilled out on the streets. But the voices of frustration and protest in social media that have been growing louder over the past seven years now is being heard over loudspeakers on the streets.
The two 25-year olds are aspiring to take on the old guns. Lepzungchiba Jamir, who describes himself as a ‘social activist’, will contest from Mokokchung district’s 21 Tuli A/C on Congress ticket. His source of income, as per his affidavit, is from ‘entrepreneurial activities’. Meanwhile, 25-year-old, Rongsenshilu, also from Mokokchung district is contesting on INC ticket. Contesting from the 26 Aonglenden A/C, his affidavit lists ‘public leader’ as his profession.
Contesting on a National People’s Party (NPP) ticket from 3 Dimapur-III A/C, is Wededie-ü Kronu. Aged 27, she will be hoping to enter the Nagaland Legislative Assembly, which has remained a forbidden zone for women. With no inherited property to her name, unlike most of her male counterparts, Kronu is a graduate and social worker who draws income from agriculture and consultancy.
The next in the line of youngesters is the poorest candidate who has declared zero assets. Twenty-seven-year-old N Akavi Zhimomi is the face clean election in Nagaland contesting on an Aam Aadmi Party ticket from 4 Ghaspani-1 A/C in Dimapur district. Having graduated in 2013, Akavi describes himself as a ‘social worker and politician.
Nagavito Sumi, aged 29, will be pitted against Akavi Zhimomi, as an Independent candidate. Another 29-year contesting in the 13th assembly is Kheyihe, who will contest from 13 Pughoboto A/C. According to official data, 29 per cent of Nagaland’s 11,63,388 voters fall in the age group of 30-39 years, while 23.9 per cent of all voters fall in the age category of 20-29 years.
Even as one walks into the offices of the political parties, young faces can be seen occupying significant positions. On the emergence of the young force, 34-year old Samuel Sumi, secretary (organisation) of NPP, speaking to indianexpress.com, says, “The youth today are more well-informed, more conscious about policy-making that impacts the youth the most.”
He said the Naga society has the understanding that wisdom comes with experience and traditionally decisions even in Naga villages are left to the old. “Things are changing, norms are changing, and the old in electoral politics do not always use their wisdom for greater benefit of the people. The young Nagas are now equally concerned, and we can take a stand,” he added.
The election in north eastern state are scheduled to be held on February 27 and the results will be declared on March 3.