Nagaland governor declares elections to urban local bodies 'null and void'

An Indian protestor sets light to effigies of Nagaland's chief minister and home minister during a protest in Dimapur on February 7. Photograph:( AFP )

WION Kohima, Nagaland, India Feb 09, 2017, 12.45 PM (IST)

In a setback for the Nagaland government, Governor P B Acharya on Thursday declared null and void the entire process of elections to urban local bodies (ULBs). Nagaland Chief Minister T R Zeliang met home minister Rajnath Singh in New Delhi on Thursday evening and informed him about the situation in the state.

The governor's decision comes amid an indefinite shutdown in the state called by for the resignation of chief minister TR Zeliang for deciding to conduct elections with 33 per cent reservation for women.
 
Zeliang flew to Delhi following a request by the home ministry to meet Rajnath Singh, officials from the chief minister's office (CMO) told PTI.

Zeliang explained to the home minister how the state government was determined to fulfill its constitutional obligation of holding ULB polls with 33 per cent reservation for women. He informed Singh about the hardships being faced by the people due to the shutdown called by tribal organisations that are demanding he step down owning moral responsibility of the death of three persons in poll-related violence.

Elections to urban local bodies in 12 towns across the state were conducted on February 1 amidst a shut-down called by tribal bodies opposing the polls.

Two people were killed and two others injured in Dimpaur district on January 31 after police fired on a mob trying to enter the chief minister's residence on Tuesday night.

Tribal organisations in Nagaland have been demanding the resignation of the TR Zeliang-led Democratic Alliance of Nagaland government ever since. 

Last week, violent mobs went on a rampage in the state's capital Kohima to vent their anger against ongoing elections, vandalising and setting government offices and vehicles on fire.

The tribal organisations, under the banner of Nagaland Tribes Action Committee (NTAC) and Joint Coordination Committee (JCC), on Tuesday served a three-day ultimatum to Zeliang to step down.

Various Naga tribal groups have opposed the 33 per cent reservation for women, saying that it will infringe on customary laws and also violate Article 371A of the Constitution that grants special status to Nagaland and guarantees preservation of such laws.

Women's rights groups in the state have long been campaigning for greater participation in public bodies. 

(WION with inputs from agencies)