Countdown to February 27 ‘If elections are held…’

Will not force Nagas to boycott Assembly polls. This was the NSCN (IM). On the other hand is an official notice put up at the board of the office of the Deputy Commissioner of Dimapur which read, “If the elections are held, polling day will be February 27th between 7 am and 4 pm.” The air of uncertainty is palpable. On the one hand is the NSCN (IM) asserting that it will not force Nagas to boycott the scheduled Assembly election, as reported by CNN News18, while on the other is an official notice put up at the office of the DC of Dimapur, “If elections are held…,” as reported in The Indian Express. Underlining the point that though the NSCN (IM) has stated that it will not force the people of Nagaland to boycott the Assembly election, it has not said anything clearly on its stand to boycott the election. Boycott the election, but do not force the people to participate in the boycott call, is a line that may be read into the stand of the NSCN (IM). This brings the all important question of how will the people respond to the stand of the armed outfit ? The air of uncertainty will always be there for while the people may not be forced to boycott the election, the boycott call may still stand. It is this air of uncertainty that may cast a shadow on the election at Nagaland and this is what is worrying. Adding to the worrying part is obviously the official notice put up at the office of the Dimapur DC, which reads as ‘If elections are held…’ thereby underlining the point that even the Government of Nagaland is not exactly sure if there can be an election, as understood universally. Definitely not a good sign for as things stand, there cannot be any winner in such a situation.
As things stand today, altogether 253 candidates drawn from nine political parties have filed their nomination papers and it is in the face of this fact that the Core Committee of Nagaland Tribal Hohos and Civil Organisations, which spearheaded the boycott call stands dissolved. Underlining the point that many political parties, led by the BJP, had decided to look over the boycott call and this in many ways say that Nagaland will go in for the polls in an acrimonious climate. Not healthy for Nagaland and one hopes it does not get reflected on the political dialogue between the Government of India and the armed groups of Nagaland. The question that must be turning in the minds of everyone is, who and what sowed the seeds of thought that a solution to the Naga issue is at hand and may well be inked before the Assembly election in Nagaland ? One obviously was the signing of the Framework Agreement between the NSCN (IM) and the Government of India in 2015, the second will obviously be the announcement of President Ramnath Kovind that the final pact will be inked soon at the opening ceremony of the Hornbill Festival in Nagaland on December 1 last year, the statement of former Chief Minister Nephiu Rio that the final pact should be given as a Christmas gift to the people of Nagaland, etc. Moreover taking the six NNPGs in the peace process to make it more inclusive were all indications that the final pact may be at hand. But no solution inked as yet and polls announced. It is amid this reality that Nagaland will go to polls, or will it be as the official notice said, if the elections are held ?

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