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People in Nagaland, especially youths, said they would choose the cleanest candidates as they needed jobs more than anything else. As of October 2016, over 70,000 educated, unemployed youth were listed. Increased literacy and learning have encouraged secular appetites among the younger generation and have brought waning interest in land and agriculture, contempt for menial labor and desires for white-collar jobs and urban amenities. One of the biggest concerns of the State now is the burgeoning numbers of educated unemployed youth which, if not tackled effectively, could lead to a vitiating of the whole developmental environment. In recent years, there has also been a noticeable rise in under-employment and disguised unemployment.

The press in Nagaland still needs nurturing. A free and thriving press is essential to sustain modern democracy, especially one that is just emerging from a long period of insurgency and conflict. The press here has still much need for investments in infrastructure, especially in the areas of reach and coverage, training of personnel and better pay, and more official and public support and participation.

Elections in Nagaland are unlike any other in the country. A constitutional crisis was looming large, with the Naga civil society calling for a boycott over the demand of a separate ‘Nagalim’ state. By early February 2018, the Centre succeeded in pacifying the political parties and armed organisations – paving the way for the elections.

The battle for the 60 seats in the Nagaland Assembly would be fought between three key players.

  1. Naga People’s Front (NPF) - Since 2003, the NPF-led Democratic Alliance of Nagaland (DAN) has been in power, in coalition with the state BJP, Janata Dal United (JDU) and other smaller regional parties. Under three-time chief minister Neiphiu Rio’s leadership, the NPF had remained the strongest contender for over a decade.

  2. NDPP-BJP alliance - In January 2018, Rio officially quit the NPF for the newly formed party, the Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP). Then the BJP walked out of the alliance with the NPF over a seat-sharing row, and joined hands with the NDPP.

  3. Congress - Playing for the third position in the state, Congress has weakened subsequently after losing power in the state in 2003 with most of its legislators moving to other parties. Congress managed a last moment arrangement to contest on 20 seats of 60 assembly constituencies.

The Bharatiya Janata Party on 01 February 2018 announced that it would contest the February 27 Assembly elections in Nagaland. The Nagaland unit of the party, led by its state President Visasolie Lhonugu, met the party’s General Secretary Ram Madhav in New Delhi to discuss the matter, the party’s state media cell said. “After a thorough deliberation, it was agreed upon that the Bharatiya Janata Party would contest the election for the cause of solution in the state as per scheduled,” read the statement. “Bharatiya Janata Party is for early solution to the present Naga Political issue and BJP will be part of the system to implement all the agreements held between the government of India and the negotiating parties.”

Union minister and BJP leader Kiren Rijiju announced 03 February 2018 that his party and the Naga Peoples Front (NPF) had parted ways after 15 years, and were no longer allied. Instead, the BJP joined hands with the National Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP). The NDPP would contest 40 of the 60 seats in the state assembly, while the BJP will field candidates in the remaining 20. The state would go to polls on February 27, and counting of votes would be carried out on March 3.

On 12 February 2018, three-time chief minister Neiphiu Rio was declared a winner from the Northern Angami-II constituency. The former leader of the ruling Naga People’s Front (NPF) won ahead of the state Assembly elections after his lone opponent, Chupfuo Angami, also from the NPF, withdrew his candidature. Rio quit the NPF in January 2018, and allied with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) with his newly formed party, the Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP). The BJP, in turn, ended its 15-year alliance with the NPF.

The term "induced voting" is the term in Nagaland for votes bought and sold to the highest bidder among many bidders or candidates. The magnitude of the problem is so huge, the church, civil society and the Election Commission have launched a clean election campaign.

Both Congress and BJP are trying their best, with votes said to be bought and sold on an outrageously exorbitant bidding system. According to Election Commission of India (ECI), it has set a limit of Rs 20 lakh on campaigning. But to the contrary, candidates are spending lavishly on free lunches to lure the voters. Reverend Keyho, leader of the Nagaland Baptist Church Council which has been initiating a 'Spotless Election' crusade, stated, "Individuals discuss it openly. Say for one vote, applicants are paying two-three thousand rupees. So if my family has four-five votes, you set up each one of those together. Furthermore, individuals are exceptionally open about those things."

In Christian dominated Nagaland, Congress declared a travel subsidy for Christian nationals who wished to travel to Jerusalem. Their biggest opponent BJP hijacked the idea and is not only offering subsidy on travelling to Jerusalem but also planned to send many people without charging them anything. The move was seen as a counter to feelings of dread of 'Hindutva intrusion' among the Christian voters of Nagaland.

The BJP also sprang a surprise in Christian-dominated Nagaland, winning 12 of 20 seats it contested. Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP) leader Neiphiu Rio was on 08 March 2018 sworn in as the chief minister of Nagaland. Rio's NDPP was allied with the BJP, and has the support of the JD(U) and an Independent - giving it the backing of 32 of the 60 MLAs in the state. After the party failed to secure a single seat in the just concluded assembly elections, Nagaland Pradesh Congress Committee president K Therie offered to resign on moral grounds. The Congress had contested in 18 seats out of the total 60, but did not win any one of it.

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Page last modified: 10-03-2018 19:04:20 ZULU