Poll Boycott Falls Flat as 253 Candidates from 9 Parties file Nomination in Nagaland

Neiphiu Rio vowed to provide good, systematic and responsive governance coupled with transparency and infrastructure development - something which the ruling Naga People's Front (NPF)-led Democratic Alliance of Nagaland Government had miserably failed to provide in the last four years.

New Delhi: Days after its civil society and political parties resolved not to contest the upcoming elections, 253 candidates from nine political parties ended up filing nominations in Nagaland.

Mainstream political parties whose candidates will be contesting the upcoming elections include the BJP, Congress, JD(U), NCP, AAP and those from regional parties such as Naga People's Front (NPF), Nationalist Democratic People's Party (NDPP) and Naga People's Party (NPP).

Notably, among the 253 candidates, only five are women.

With scrutiny of applications due on Thursday, these numbers may change but it seems that the state's poor run in representation of women continues for now.

The list of candidates was made public by the Election Commission on February 7.

It was less than a fortnight ago, on January 29, when the heads of several tribal communities had issued a boycott call for the elections scheduled on February 27. Core Committee of Nagaland Tribal Hohos and Civil Organisations (CCNTHCO) had issued the January 29 declaration demanding "solution [of the Indo-Naga political issue] before election."

CCNTHCO had, with the support of seven Naga insurgent groups, compelled 11 political parties to sign a joint agreement to not contest the elections to the 13th Nagaland Legislative Assembly. But the boycott call fell flat when political parties and its candidates made a rush to nominate themselves for the upcoming elections.

CCNTHCO was later dissolved by its founders who admitted that people were largely “reluctant” to stand by the committee’s demand for ‘solution before election’ without knowing what the solution is.

Meanwhile, both the BJP and the Congress seems to have hit rough waters before the polls.

For BJP, the pre-poll alliance with NDPP seems to be over, at least for now, after BJP state in-charge Visasolie Lhoungu wrote a letter to the party high command saying it cannot accept any pre-poll alliance with a party without any influence at the grassroots.

This happened a day after BJP in-charge for Nagaland polls Kiren Rijiju and NDPP chief Neiphu Rio addressed the media in Guwahati on Saturday and claimed to have sealed a pre-poll alliance.

However, given that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Rajnath Singh are expected to lead BJP's campaign in the state, the spirits of party's leadership are still high.

The trouble with Congress, on the other hand, continues. In a press conference conducted on Wednesday, the party admitted that "it was being forced to contest the elections at the eleventh hour, and that it is "not in the frame of mind to contest polls."

The party's poor run in Nagaland, where it has suffers from infighting and mass desertion, may not be over.