The Nagaland unit of the National People’s Party (NPP) termed the state government’s recent decision to nominate members to the urban local bodies for an interim period unconstitutional and undemocratic.

“The government’s decision is highly questionable and objectionable,” the NPP said in a release on Sunday.

The party said the urban local bodies come under the ambit of the urban local government, implying the governance of an urban area, including municipalities, by the people through their elected representatives.

The state government’s decision does not come as a welcome sign as it is bypassing a prerequisite entity of a democratic set up to conduct free and fair elections to the civic bodies, it stated.

The party appealed to the state government to immediately conduct fresh elections to the civic bodies so that people’s belief and faith in democratic principles is reinstated.

Planning and coordination and parliamentary affairs minister Neiba Kronu recently announced the government’s decision to nominate members to urban local bodies for an interim period. The state government also formed a committee headed by chief secretary J Alam to review the Municipality Act last month.

“The pretext of averting a showdown with regard to the contentious issue of 33% reservation for women in the urban local bodies not only shows the inability of the state government to solve crucial law and order issues but also reveals its incompetency in understanding the ground realities of the grassroots politics of which civic bodies are integral components,” the party said.

“How can we expect democracy to prevail when local self-governance is not possible in principle?” it asked.

In early 2017, the elections to the urban local bodies in the state with 33% reservation for women witnessed violent protests by Naga tribal bodies. Opposing reservation for women in the civic bodies, the tribal groups went on a rampage, vandalising and setting ablaze government offices and vehicles in Kohima town. Two persons were killed in police firing in Dimapur on the eve of the election on January 31 that year.

The NPP reasoned that nomination to the civic bodies is totally undemocratic in nature as only a few selected individuals finding favour with their political bosses will be appointed as members.

“This will not only give rise to nepotism and favoritism to prevail but will also lead to more corruption which is at the very root of poor development in Nagaland,” it said.

The party urged the civic bodies, tribal hohos (bodies), student organizations and like-minded individuals to voice out against such unreasonable and biased steps taken by the state government which can jeopardize the healthy democracy and polity of the state.

Bhadra Gogoi

Bhadra Gogoi is Northeast Now Correspondent in Nagaland. He can be reached at: bhadragogoi@yahoo.com