Elect only ‘indigenous Nagas’ in local body polls, Naga student body appeals to people

Kohima, June 14 (IANS) The Naga Students’ Federation (NSF) on Thursday appealed to the people of Nagaland to elect “Nagas by blood and not by adoption” in the June 26 elections to urban local bodies (ULBs) in the state.

NSF Vice President Mteisuding said that electing non-Nagas to local governance would pose a significant risk to the preservation of the Naga cultural heritage.

The NSF, in collaboration with like-minded organisations and subordinate bodies, reiterated its firm stance on the paramount importance of indigenous representation in the forthcoming ULB polls as Naga people have a glorious history and vibrant culture that are intricately woven into the fabric of the governance structures, he told the media.

“Observance of customary laws and traditional practices are not just symbolic gestures but are the very essence of Naga identity. These practices have been handed down through generations and are vital for maintaining social cohesion,” Mteisuding said, expressing his fear that electing non-Nagas “would disrupt the traditional systems that have long sustained the communities and dilute the cultural legacy that defines Nagas as a people”.

The NSF firmly believed that indigenous representation in local governance is not just a matter of political reason but a basic necessity for the survival of Naga cultural identity, he claimed and demanded that women married to non-locals, and non-Nagas and their children be excluded from contesting the ULB elections.

“The NSF urged the people to apply their wisdom while voting in the ULB polls and elect indigenous Naga candidates to the decision-making bodies of local self-governance and thereby protect the tradition and culture of the Nagas,” Mteisuding stated.

Under Article 371A of the Constitution, Nagaland enjoys certain special provisions including the community’s customary laws. Significantly, the upcoming local body polls in three municipal councils and 36 town councils are the first-ever municipal elections in the state to be held with 33 per cent reservation for women. The ULB polls were delayed by around 20 years after the tribal bodies and civil society organisations were against the reservation.

After hectic consultations with the Naga organisations and civil societies by the state government, the state Assembly, in November last year, passed the Nagaland Municipal Bill 2023 with 33 per cent reservation for women. In Nagaland, over 95 per cent of the land and its resources belong to the people and the community while the government owns only about 5 per cent of the total area, including reserve forests, and roads.



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