Did Nagaland’s ruling party defraud the ECI?

Poll panel seeks NDPP response on plea to de-register party

 

Morung Express News
Dimapur | June 5

 

The Election Commission of India (ECI) is examining an application seeking to de-register the Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP) as a political party.

 

The application, filed in December last year and taken forward on May 7 this year, accuses at least 13 members of the ruling NDPP, including their top brass, of filing false affidavits with the ECI.

 

“The NDPP, the current ruling party of Nagaland through an alliance with the BJP, appears to have played a fraud on the Election Commission and the people of Nagaland while the party was being created,” informed a press release from Zeneisiile Ate Loucii, an activist who filed the said complaint with the ECI. She discovered the matter after filing an RTI application with the ECI in December 2017.

 

Having taken note of the case, the ECI has directed the President of the NDPP to respond to the application by June 12.

 

The case
According to the complaint, of the 103 affidavits filed before the Election Commission by members of the NDPP, at least 13 members including top office bearers of the NDPP stated in their affidavits, dated May 2017, that they are a member of the NDPP and not any other registered party with the ECI.

 

However, the ECI, on October 17, 2017, “recorded details of a dispute between two factions of the Naga People’s Front (NPF) over the allotment of the ‘cock’ symbol and control of NPF.”

 

According to Zeneisiile Ate Loucii, the Election Commission’s documents show that even as affidavits and oaths of allegiance to Neiphiu Rio were produced by a few ‘Central Executive Council Members/ Central Office Bearers’ of NPF, “some of these affidavits, dated August/September 2017, contained deposition of individuals who also formed the NDPP. The same people now claimed to be members of the NPF.”

 

According to her findings, the affidavits of the members who were supporting Rio in the dispute with Dr. Shürhozelie Leizietsu for the control over NPF deposed that “in sound mind, robust health and without any duress” they withdraw their support to Dr. Shürhozelie while declaring their “oath of allegiance and unflinching support” to Neiphiu Rio, “the newly elected interim president of the NPF.”

 

Loucii noted that these politicians, who should have resigned from the NPF in May 2017 when they filed affidavits for the registration of NDPP, decided not to end their membership with NPF. “This seems to have been done in the hope of take over the control of NPF, while simultaneously establishing a rival party – NDPP.”

 

As per documents, by orders dated September 20, 2017, the then President of NPF, Neiphiu Rio, appointed these individuals as Secretary, Central Executive Council, etc. of the NPF even though they were already members of the NDPP.

 

This led Loucii to conclude, “It is likely that these individuals were under the impression that their attempt to sail on two boats would go unnoticed, however, a bare reading of the facts reveals that there is a serious case of election fraud to be investigated.”

 

The Supreme Court has stated in Indian National Congress v. Institute of Social Welfare & Ors. that a party which has “obtained registration through fraud may be de-registered” and individual members are also liable to be “prosecuted under appropriate provisions of the Indian Penal Code,” she argued.

 

“The complaint before the Election Commission highlights an apparent, blatant abuse of the law and voters’ trust by major NDPP leaders. This abuse could lead to the dissolution of the party,” hoped the complainant.

 

Response
“We have received the ECI notice a couple of days back and are going through documents to get a clear picture,” said NDPP Spokesperson, Merentoshi Jamir, while speaking to The Morung Express.

 

Further, he said, “as far as we know, the members accused of lying did not renew their NPF membership which led to the automatic revocation of their membership.” He admitted that the NDPP still needs to do more work to gain clarity on the matter.

 

Meanwhile, NPF Spokesperson, Achumbemo Kikon, informed The Morung Express that as per the NPF Constitution, Article 12, Clause 4, primary membership to the party ceases through death, resignation, removal, expulsion, refusal or failure to renew membership within a stipulated time, which is 5 years.