Kohima: Nagaland has finally resolved to conduct elections as per the 74th Amendment Act of the Constitution of India and allow for 33% women reservation in the Urban Local Bodies (ULB) elections. 

The decision followed a crucial meeting between the state government and stakeholders, including mass-based civil societies, church organisations, tribal hohos, political parties and other non-governmental organisations.

This development comes two weeks after the Supreme Court (SC) granted six weeks to the Nagaland government to report back as to how it proposes to implement 33% reservation for women in Municipalities and Town Councils.

Addressing a press conference, Nagaland legislator Mmhonlumo Kikon, who co-chaired the crucial meeting, said, “Following the order of the Supreme Court, the state government has already had several meetings. We had a cabinet meeting first, and this consultative meeting was held because ULB elections could not be conducted in the past due to protests from civil society organisations. So, consultations were necessary to comply with the order of the Supreme Court.”

He informed that after Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio, deputy CM Y Patton, United Democratic Alliance (UDA) chairman TR Zeliang, and Advocate General KN Balgopal explained the position of conducting ULB elections, there was a “collective understanding” that it was acceptable to the Nagas.

In 2017, Nagaland witnessed violent protests against the ULB elections, which provided 33% reservation for women. The protest claimed two lives, and several government properties were vandalised. Several organisations opposed the ULB elections on grounds that it infringed the special provisions granted to Nagaland under Article 371(A) of the Constitution.

As reported earlier, the first election under the Municipal and Town Council Act 2001 was conducted in 2004 across the state without 33% women reservation, except in Mokokchung town, on grounds that unless the provision for taxation of land and building were omitted/deleted from the Act, the town would not allow the municipal election. 

According to Kikon, the issue of taxation which led to protest in the past was also discussed. “Today, proper clarity was given. They were made to understand that the Municipalities Act does not permit the state government to collect tax. It is the town councils and municipal council that will collect the tax for the maintenance and upkeep of the town,” he said. Kikon then added that the tax garnered to maintain towns and municipalities will also be dependent on the town council.

Minster Neiba Kronu, who chaired the meeting, said that the crucial consultative meeting was “well attended”, terming the gathering as one of the highest intellectual gatherings that the state has seen. He informed that during the meeting, former chief minister TR Zeliang (during whose tenure as CM the violence erupted) shared about the ULB matters.

Red-letter day for Women

Adviser of the Naga Mothers Association (NMA), Dr Rosemary Dzüvichü, who has been advocating for 33% women reservation, told EastMojo, “We are grateful to the CM, Chairman UDA, Deputy CM and all leaders of the various tribes, civil societies, and political parties who have supported the reservation for women. It has been a long struggle for Naga women. Today is a red-letter day for Naga women.” 

Senior journalist and president of the Kohima Press Club (KPC) Alice Yhoshü, reacted, saying, “I am happy. This decision was long overdue. I think that the 33% women reservation in urban local bodies should not be politicised anymore.”

She added saying, “My respect and best wishes to all those who spearheaded the fight for our women’s constitutional rights, particularly for this case.”

What happens next?

Now that a resolution has been passed to conduct the ULB elections as per the 74th Amendment Act of the Constitution of India, Kikon said that a move will now be made to put in motion what is necessary and prepare for the conduct of the elections.


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