The public always looks forward for General Assembly Election. It is the best time for bargaining, and many do take advantages of the polls to extract from the aspirant candidates as they visit to seek vote. However, Nagaland Health and Family Welfare Minister Imkong Imchen on January 9, 2018 extended his support to the demand of various Naga pressure groups to defer the upcoming Assembly Elections in order to facilitate a solution to the seven-decade-old Naga insurgency.
Imchen denied that such action is an act of ‘boycotting’ the election, since it was only a proposal to the central government to defer the election. But if the central government is sincere enough, they can defer the elections to pave way for a Naga political settlement. He said elections at this hour would most likely jeopardize Prime Minister’s desire for peace. A political solution to the seven-decade long Indo-Naga political issue must be given greater importance over the democratic electoral exercise.
On the other hand, one of the pressure groups from Meghalaya – Maitshaphrang Movement on the same day, demanded the state election commission to effectively implement the Meghalaya Compulsory Registration of Marriage Act, 2012 in the upcoming Assembly polls, by making it mandatory for all candidates to furnish marriage certificate while filing of nomination papers.
In a petition to the state’s chief electoral officer (CEO) Frederick R Kharkongor on January 9, 2018, Maitshaphrang convener Michael Syiem demanded to make it mandatory for all candidates to furnish a marriage registration certificate along with other relevant documents, at the time of filing their nomination papers. The Act has clearly states: Whereas further it is mandatory for married man and married women to compulsorily furnish a marriage certificate for all official purposes.
Interestingly, the Maitshaphrang also demanded that on failing to furnish the marriage certificate by the candidates, the election department should declare their nomination papers as “invalid”.
Syiem also threatened to approach the Meghalaya High Court if the state government fails to implement the Act in letter and spirit.
Both the Poll Bound states have such diverse demand. In the case of Nagaland, focusing on the Peace talk given that the Nagaland Assembly last year had unanimously adopted a resolution urging the central government to take emergent and extraordinary steps for an “honorable and acceptable solution” before the Assembly election.
Noting that the central government can defer the elections under extra ordinary situation, the Naga People’s Front legislator, however, said that it was up to the central government to take a decision on it.
Nagaland became India’s 16th state on December 1, 1963. The mostly mountainous state, spread over 16,579 square km, is home to 16 major tribes, each with distinct customs, language and dress.
While in the case of Meghalaya, where the Bill was taken up in the State Assembly, but it was not executed as per the demand, hence, taking advantage of the general election properly next month, the pressure group wanted the candidates to produce their marriage certificate, which at this juncture might be difficult for the ones who have not registered their marriages.
In both the cases, it is evident that not only the public takes advantage of the general election, the legislators and pressure groups too can put forward their unfulfilled legislations or demands respectively during election.
The general public too should demand the Progress Report of all the 60 legislators as how they have performed during this term. Similar representation could be made to the CEO to seek the Report Card of the candidate. Either they are seeking re-election or not, it should be mandatory to produce the report for transparency and accountability.