The stage is set for bypolls in two Assembly constituencies – 14 Southern Angami-I (ST) and 60 Pungro-Kiphire (ST) – in Nagaland on Tuesday amid Covid-19 pandemic situation.

The Southern Angami-I constituency fell vacant following the death of former Nagaland Assembly Speaker Vikho-o Yhoshü on December 30 while the byelection to Pungro-Kiphire constituency was necessitated after the death of NPF legislator T Torechu on December 16 last year.

Eight candidates are in the fray – three in Souther Angami constituency and five in Pungro-Kiphire constituency – for the two bypolls.

Medo Yhokha from ruling Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP), Kikovi Kirha from Opposition Naga People’s Front (NPF) and Independent candidate Seyievilie Peter Zashumo are contesting from Souther Angami constituency while INC’s Khaseo Anar, BJP’s Lirimong Sangtam, Independent candidates S Kiusumew Yimchunger, Lithriyem Dupongle, K Shellumthong Yimchunger and T Yangseo Sangtam are the candidates from Pungro-Kiphire seat.

Campaigning for the bypolls ended at 4pm on Sunday while the polling is scheduled from 7am to 4pm in both the constituencies. Counting of votes would be taken up on November 10.

Altogether 13,541 electorate will decide the fate of the three candidates in Southern Angami constituency while 29,346 electors will vote to elect their representative from among five candidates in Pungro-Kiphire assembly seat.

The election authorities said strict SOPs, social distancing measures and preventive steps against COVID-19 would be implemented on the polling day.

The Nagaland government has declared that all establishments, including government offices and shops, will remain closed in the areas falling under the two constituencies on the day of polling.

The government also said paid holiday will be granted to all employees in the areas of the constituencies, including those electors working outside the constituencies, in order to enable them to participate and exercise their franchise.

However, this will not apply to any elector whose absence may cause danger or substantial loss in respect of the employment in which he/she is engaged.

Nagaland chief electoral officer (CEO) Abhijit Sinha said according to Section 135A of Representation of the People Act 1951, an offence of booth capturing will be punishable with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than one year but which may extend to three years and with fine.

The CEO, as per the directives of the Election Commission, asked all political functionaries who are not voters of the constituencies going for byelections to leave the constituencies immediately after the campaign period was over.

Kohima deputy commissioner and district electoral officer Mohammed Ali Shihab A has restricted/prohibited the assembly and movement of more than five persons with Southern Angami seat with effect from 6pm on November 1 to 6pm on November 4 in order to maintain peace and also to prevent the spread of Coronavirus.

Bhadra Gogoi

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