In a major setback to the people of Nagaland in general, several civil society organizations of the State and church leaders, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Thursday ended all speculations by announcing that the Assembly polls will be held as scheduled in Nagaland.
Sources close to the Home Ministry and the election Commission of India (ECI) late Thursday hinted at announcing poll dates later on Friday evening for the ensuing Assembly elections in Nagaland along with the other two poll bound states of the North-east – Meghalaya and Tripura.
Elections to all three states are scheduled to be held in February-March next.
The terms of the present Assemblies in Meghalaya, Nagaland and Tripura will expire on March 6, 13 and 14 respectively. The Legislative Assemblies in all the three states have 60 members each.
The Home Minister’s announcement came on the heels of his meeting with Nagaland Chief Minister T R Zeliang who had called on Rajnath Singh earlier on Wednesday with a request to postpone the elections and come up with an amicable solution to the vexed Naga issue as desired by one and all in Nagaland in particular and the entire North-east in general.
Hours after the meeting, the office of the Union Home Minister tweeted: “HM also told the Nagaland Chief Minister that announcing the dates for Assembly elections is the prerogative of the Election Commission and the elections have to be held on schedule.”
“HM told him (Zeliang) that the negotiations of various Naga groups with the interlocutor will continue,” another tweet said.
The Home Minister had earlier assured Zeliang that he would convene a meeting on the demand of the Naga people and convey the outcome of the meeting to the Nagaland Government.
Zeliang had briefed Rajnath about the ‘desire’ by various civil society organizations and church leaders in Nagaland for a ‘solution before election’.
The Nagaland Chief Minister also pointed out that the Government of India was engaged with different Naga political groups – NSCN (I-M) and working committee of six Naga National Political Groups (NNPGs) for early solution and that it was the desire of the Naga people for a permanent solution of the problem before the ensuing election.
In support of the demand, the State Chief Minister also submitted the resolution adopted by Nagaland Legislators Forum and parliamentarians and ex-parliamentarians on December 7 last year along with a copy of Nagaland Legislative Assembly resolution on the issue.
Meanwhile, the ECI has published the final electoral rolls that showed a decrease in the number of voters from that in 2013 election following some intensive cleansing of the rolls in Nagaland.
Nagaland chief electoral officer Abhijit Sinha told media the final rolls published has 11,89,264 voters, lower than the electorate size of 11,92,377 in 2013.