Why Almost No One Has Come To Vote In Nagaland; Here’s The Reason

New Delhi: Almost no one has come out to vote across six districts in Nagaland today, after the Eastern Nagaland People’s Organisation (ENPO), which is demanding a separate administration with more financial autonomy declared a ‘public emergency’ and called on locals to boycott this election.

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The north-eastern state’s Chief Election Officer has issued a notice to the ENPO for disrupting the electoral process, NDTV reported.

In a statement, the top poll official said the group had attempted “to use undue influence… by interfering with the free exercise of those residing in Eastern Nagaland areas to vote in the general election”. The ENPO, the officer said, is therefore “directed to show cause… as to why action under subsection of Section 171C of the Indian Penal Code should not be initiated”.

The relevant subsection says “whoever voluntarily interferes, or attempts to interfere, with the free exercise of any electoral right commits the offence of undue influence at the election”.

The ENPO has responded saying the “main goal” of the public notification was to “reduce the possibility of disturbances in the Eastern Nagaland region, which is under our jurisdiction, and the risk linked with gatherings of anti-social elements”. The organisation underlined the fact “the Eastern Nagaland region is presently under Public Emergency”, and that this was declared after consultations with stakeholders, the report added.

This was a “voluntary initiative” by the people, the ENPO said, arguing that action under Section 171C “is not applicable… as no offence related to undue influence at any election is committed…” “Given that the shutdown was a voluntary initiative by the people, there was no question of coercion or enforcement by the ENPO or any other authority,” the statement said, also adding that it is willing to cooperate with the Election Commission “if there has been any misunderstanding or misinterpretation”.

Notably, on March 30 the ENPO held a lengthy closed-door meeting with 20 MLAs and other organisations, at which they reiterated the decision to totally abstain from the Lok Sabha election. The Eastern Nagaland Legislators’ Union – consisting of the 20 MLAs – had asked the ENPO to reconsider its decision.

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