Lok Sabha polls: Near-zero turnout in 6 districts of eastern Nagaland

The north-eastern state as a whole has only one Lok Sabha seat and answered an ENPO boycott call, registering almost no votes in the region

Empty polling booth in Nagaland where polling officers await voters—who did not turn up (photo courtesy @ceonagaland/X)
Empty polling booth in Nagaland where polling officers await voters—who did not turn up (photo courtesy @ceonagaland/X)

NH Political Bureau

All six eastern districts in the north-eastern state of Nagaland have recorded almost zero per cent voting till noon amid a call for a boycott of the 2024 Lok Sabha polls.

As per media reports, the voting turnout in Nagaland hit a historic low today, 19 April, as the first phase of the Lok Sabha elections kicked off. The Eastern Nagaland People’s Organisation (ENPO)—the apex body for seven tribal organisations—had called for a boycott of the elections, advocating for a separate administration with increased financial autonomy.

The chief election officer of Nagaland has issued a notice to the ENPO, alleging they have engaged in disruption of the electoral process. Photographs from Nagaland shared by the Election Commission show that the polling booths wore a deserted look, belying its 40 lakh-plus electoral strength.

The ENPO has sought to unduly influence voters by obstructing their right to vote freely in the Eastern Nagaland regions, the ECI officials alleged. The ENPO has been asked to provide justification for its actions under Section 171C of the Indian Penal Code.

In their defence, the ENPO has clarified that its primary goal is to maintain peace in the Eastern Nagaland area and mitigate the risk posed by gatherings of disruptive elements.

The group emphasised that its declaration of a public emergency in the region followed consultations with various stakeholders.

The ENPO also said that the shutdown was a voluntary initiative chosen by the people, devoid of any coercion or enforcement. They conveyed their willingness to collaborate with the Election Commission in addressing any misunderstandings or misinterpretations.

It is worth noting here that on 30 March, the ENPO engaged in discussions with 20 MLAs and various organisations, reaffirming its resolve to abstain from participating in the Lok Sabha election.

Despite the Eastern Nagaland Legislators’ Union (ENLU) urging them to reconsider, the ENPO notified the ECI of its decision, reiterating that their choice reflects the sentiments and aspirations of the people and upholds democratic principles.

In a joint statement, signed by all the 32 office bearers of the ENPO, led by its president R. Tsapikiu Sangtam, the organisation stated: 'In all sincerity and in good faith, we wish to remind our esteemed ENLU members that our intention is to avoid any misunderstandings or unnecessary confrontations on polling day.'

'This decision was not taken lightly but it represents the collective voice of our community, echoing our shared grievances and concerns regarding the neglect and disregard shown towards our region’s welfare and aspirations by the successive governments,' the ENPO wrote.

Meanwhile, the state BJP handle has gone ahead and shared a thank-you note on X, expressing gratitude to the people who exercised their right to vote today — presumably for the other half of the total 16 districts?

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