Finding itself on the back foot in the face of mass and overwhelming opposition throughout the state, against the controversy surrounding the decision to press ahead with elections to Urban Local Bodies (ULBs), the state cabinet Tuesday attempted an academic exercise by issuing a clarification but deciding that “the process of election to the ULBs as notified should be completed”.
A press communiqué issued by Menokhol John, Principal Secretary, Municipal Affairs Department (MAD) informed that the decision was made after deliberating on the issue at a meeting held in the Dimapur residence of chief minister T.R. Zeliang
According to the communiqué, the response of the cabinet to respective points were:
(1)On whether civic polls with 33% women reservation infringed upon rights of Nagas as enshrined under Article 371A : the cabinet said women quota in ULBs was a constitutional obligation through Article 243T that came to force in 1993 and not through any Act of the state. It said the Nagaland Municipal Act was only to carry out the constitutional mandate and give effect to Article 243T.
(2) On whether concerns expressed by various tribal organisations were addressed by the Nagaland Municipal (Third Amendment)Act,2016: The cabinet maintained that holding of civic polls with 33% women reservation as passed by the government in 2006 to give mandate to Art.243T ( but Part-IXA was subsequently made inoperative by the state government through an assembly resolution on September 22,2012). The cabinet said Art.243T which was in force since 1993 was not found to have infringed on the rights of Nagas as enshrined in Article 371A. It reiterated that holding of elections to ULBs with 33% women reservation would not infringe on Article 371A.
(3)On whether withholding polls to ULBs would infringe upon Article 371A as maintained earlier by the state government, would stand legal scrutiny, since 25% reservation was already provided by the government in VDBs : The cabinet maintained that withholding elections to ULBs since the last ten years had adverse effect on towns and municipalities in matters of development and local self-governance and therefore, keeping elections on hold would “do more harm than good to these ULBs.”
(4) On whether civic polls have anything to do with traditional practices of Nagas as townships under municipalities , (which the cabinet described as “new concepts”) had nothing to do with traditional or customary practices of Nagas.: the cabinet decided to have more consultations with the tribal organisations in the days to come “ for better understanding”.