Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Naga women trailblazers

Out of four Naga women who contested the February 27, 2023 assembly election, two were successful on NDPP tickets and thus wrote history as the first ‘two Naga women ‘to be elected to the Nagaland Legislative Assembly in their maiden attempt. The two ‘firsts’ Hekani Jakhalu Kense (3 Dimapur –III) and Salhoutuonuou Kruse (8 Western Angami)- are also first-timers to election. Both are women of substance who have proved their mettle in social and public life. Salhoutuonuo Kruse(56) was president of the influential Angami Women Organisation(2011-14). She entered politics after the demise of her husband late Er. Kevisekho Kruse on June 4,2021. Kevisekho was the NDPP candidate in 2018 for the 8 Western Angami constituency and lost to NPF candidate Keneizhako Nakhro. Before the election, Nakhro crossed over to the NDPP but was not given the party ticket and contested as independent. In a hard fought contest Salhoutuonuo overcame her rival Keneizhako Nakhro and won by only seven votes. The other NDPP woman candidate Hekani Jakhalu Kense (47) also won her maiden election against a veteran politician by a margin of 1536. Hekani was educated at Bishop Cotton Girls’ School in Bengaluru and earned a bachelor’s degree in political science at the prestigious Lady Shri Ram College in Delhi. She then studied for a Bachelor of Laws at the University of Delhi and took a Master of Laws at the University of San Francisco. She later formed and NGO to empower women youths with needed skills for self employment. Her YouthNet opened a new chapter in expanding the skilling abilities of youths in various spheres of business activities. It may also be mentioned that even the two woman candidate who lost, put up a good fight and proved that women have the capability to pick up the challenge. It would also be worth noting that a Naga woman, late Rano Shaiza became the first Naga woman to win a parliamentary election as United Democratic Front (UDF) candidate, when she won the Lok Sabha election in 1977 against a political heavyweight and against all odds. Also in 2022, another Naga woman-Phangnon Konyak was elected to the Rajya Sabha from Nagaland. However, Hekani Jakhalu Kense and Salhoutuonuo Kruse have written history by becoming the first Naga women to be elected to the assembly. The win by both woman who fought on NDPP tickets is also a tribute to the bold move made by the ruling party under the leadership of Neiphiu Rio. Two other women-Er Kahuli from BJP and Rosy Thompson from Congress make up the entire team of four. Their contest was not a litmus test on their winnability but on the immediate prospect of women contesting in politics. Since 2003 number of Naga women candidates contesting assembly election became a feature when three women candidates stood for election that year. Subsequently in 2008 there were four female candidates; two in 2013, five in 2018 and four in 2023.All other interested women who want to join politics will also be inspired to prove to the men that women always had the potential to win on their merit to achieve greater heights without succumbing to the call for 33% women reservation.

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