Nagaland election 2018: Why the state has failed to elect a woman candidate in 54 years

Nagaland election 2018: Even as 54 years have passed since the formation of the Nagaland state, the Legislative Assembly here is yet to see the participation of any woman member.

nagaland election 2018
Nagaland Election 2018 to take place on 27 February. (IE file)

Nagaland election 2018: Even as 54 years have passed since the formation of the Nagaland state, the Legislative Assembly here is yet to see the participation of any woman member. This year a few women candidates are in the fray. Surprisingly in past, even as political parties promised women empowerment in their manifestoes, they stopped short of backing women candidates.

Wedie-u Kronu and Mangyangpula are contesting the Nagaland election 2018 on National People’s Party (NPP) tickets from Dimapur-III and Noksen Assembly constituencies respectively. Rakhila is a BJP candidate from Tuensang Sadar-II seat. Awan Konyak of Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP), which was formed recently, is contesting from Aboi seat.

Rekha Rose Dukru is fighting an Independent candidate from Chizami constituency. Interestingly, with the exception of Rakhila, all other women candidates in the fray are first-timers. Wife of former minister and four-time MLA Lakiumong, who had died in 2006, Rakhila had lost from Tuensang Sadar-II seat by just about 800 voters in last elections. She has told PTI: “Men in power do not perform. I will do what they haven’t done so far.”

The ruling Naga People’s Front (NPF) has decided not to field a woman candidate for the upcoming polls. Shurhozelie Liezietsu, NPF president, had recently told reporters that no woman member of his party had shown interest in contesting on the NPF ticket.

As per the customary law of Nagaland, women are deprived of land rights, property rights and inheritance rights. The money is controlled by men, even as women can be seen at workplaces.

During 2013 elections in the state, a woman candidate had lost a chance to contest because of her inability to raise enough funds. The Hindu had reported then that one Ms Khegoli, then a senior leader of the Mahila Congress in Nagaland had wished to contest from Ghaspani-I but it was not allowed by the state Congress leadership. Khegoli had alleged that the state Congress leaders had asked her “how much money do you have” and if she could raise funds. Eventually, Khegoli decided not to contest.

Last year, Naga men had gone on a strike to send the woman back to the kitchen. Violent protests had started in the state over the issue of whether women could stand for elections, hold important offices and become decision makers.

The only woman from the state to have been elected to Lok Sabha in was Rano Shaiza in 1977. She had died in 2015 due to age-related ailments.

This year, some organisations and activists have welcomed the women contesting the polls.

Naga Mothers Association (NMA), an apex women’s body in the state, Rosemary Dzuvichu, told PTI, “We are happy to see these women step into the fray. All women voters in these constituencies must support and vote for them.”

“Women participation is equally important as that of men,” said social activist and entrepreneur Elu Ndang, adding, “We should encourage Naga women to participate in the decision-making bodies.”

Kronu, a social worker, said she felt women could make positive changes in the society. “It is difficult to clean the system of corruption. I entered politics to bring about a change in the system,” she said.

The polling in Nagaland will take place on February 27 and the results will be announced on March 3.

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