Amid election boycott call, EC gearing up to hold LS polls in Nagaland on April 19

Kohima, April 13 (IANS) Amid the election boycott call given by the Eastern Nagaland People’s Organisation (ENPO) demanding statehood, the Election Commission is getting ready to hold the Lok Sabha polls for the lone parliamentary seat in the state on April 19.

The ENPO, which has been demanding a separate administration or state comprising six backward Nagaland districts since 2010, remains firm on boycotting the April 19 elections to the lone Lok Sabha seat in the state unless their demand is met, despite the appeals from the state government and various other parties.

Election officials said that they are making all-out efforts to conduct the voting in the eastern Nagaland areas, comprising 20 of the 60 assembly seats, in six eastern districts — Kiphire, Longleng, Mon, Noklak, Shamator and Tuensang.

The agitating ENPO in support of its demand since March 8, has imposed a ‘public emergency’ affecting normal activities.

Nagaland Deputy Chief Minister and BJP Legislature Party leader Yanthungo Patton said that polling stations would be set up across the state, including eastern Nagaland.

While talking with the media, Patton said that the state government would continue to appeal to the ENPO to participate in the election.

On the ENPO blaming the state government for their decision to abstain from taking part in the election, the Deputy Chief Minister said: “They should not blame the state government. Initially, they did not consult with the state government. The state government was doing its best to resolve the matter.”

Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio last week held a meeting with officials of the eastern Nagaland region and requested them to persuade the ENPO to withdraw the boycott call.

Rio, who is sympathetic to the demand of the ENPO, recently said that the state government has already recommended, to the Centre, that an autonomous region be set up for the people belonging to the eastern region.

Of Nagaland’s 16 districts, seven backward tribes — Chang, Khiamniungan, Konyak, Phom, Tikhir, Sangtam, and Yimkhiung — are living in the six eastern districts.

The ENPO, the apex Naga body, and its associated organisations, in support of its separate state demand, gave a call to boycott last year’s Assembly polls (February 27) but later withdrew it following an assurance from Union Home Minister Amit Shah.

The Union Home Ministry, responding to the ENPO’s demand, last year formed a three-member committee, headed by Adviser, Northeast, A.K. Mishra to study their demand, and the panel visited Nagaland several times and spoke with all stakeholders.

On March 28, a closed door meeting was held between the Eastern Nagaland Legislative Union (ENLU), a body of 20 MLAs representing the six backward districts and the ENPO.

But after the crucial nine-hour meeting, the ENPO leaders reiterated their call to boycott the April 19 Lok Sabha elections.

The BJP, a part of the United Democratic Alliance government in Nagaland, has urged the ENPO to hold a dialogue with the government over their demand for a separate state.

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