The State Election Commission of Nagaland on Thursday announced that it will hold polls to 39 Urban Local Bodies (ULB) after almost two decades on May 16 with 33 per cent reservation of seats for women, one of the contentious issues blamed for the situation.
The newly formed Nagaland Cabinet headed by Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio during its first meeting on Tuesday had deliberated on the conduct of the ULB elections by May this year with 33 per cent women reservation as directed by the Supreme Court.
Subsequently, State Election Commissioner (SEC) T Mhabemo Yanthan announced that the elections to constitute three municipal councils and 36 town councils in the state with 33 per cent reservation of seats for women will be held on May 16.
Notifying the election programme, he said filing of nominations will start on April 3 and end on April 10. Scrutiny of nomination papers will be done on April 12 and 13 while the last date for withdrawal of candidature is April 24. Votes will be counted on May 19.
ULB elections in the state have been long overdue as the last polls were held in 2004. Since then, elections were not conducted first on the "unresolved" Naga peace talks and then on 33 per cent reservation for women which the tribal bodies opposed.
In 2017, the government had withheld the decision to conduct the election after clashes left two persons dead and several others injured on the eve of the day of voting.
The clashes also led to the setting ablaze of Kohima Municipal Council office and adjoining government offices in the state capital and elsewhere.
Various tribal organisations have been opposing the ULB elections with 33 per cent reservation for women, asserting that it infringes on the special rights for Nagaland guaranteed by Article 371(A) of the Constitution.
However, on March 9, 2022, representatives from across the Naga society unanimously agreed that elections to ULBs should be held with 33 per cent reservation for women.
The decision was taken during a consultative meeting of all stakeholders including civil society organisations, churches, tribal bodies, political parties and NGOs convened by the state government in the presence of legislators.
The SEC also said that with the announcement of the election programme, the model code of conduct has come into force with immediate effect in the municipal and town council areas going to polls.
This will be applicable to all candidates, political parties and the state government machinery, he said.
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