Nagaland Lok Sabha elections: what are youths’ expectations?

Making up almost a quarter of the total population in Nagaland, young voters will be one of the deciding factors in choosing the next LS representative from the State. (Morung File Photo: For Representational Purposes Only).

Making up almost a quarter of the total population in Nagaland, young voters will be one of the deciding factors in choosing the next LS representative from the State. (Morung File Photo: For Representational Purposes Only).

Morung Express News 
Dimapur | April 14 

Do the Lok Sabha (LS) elections matter in Nagaland? What are the expectations of the voters, particularly the youths, from the candidates? As Nagaland awaits the outcome of a three-way contest comprising of the People's Democratic Alliance consensus candidate Dr Chumben Murry, Congress' S Supongmeren Jamir and Independent Hayithung Lotha for the lone LS seat on April 19, The Morung Express conducted an informal survey to gauge the mood of the young voters. 

According to the 2011 census, the State has a total of 6,10,886 youths aged between 15-29 years making upon almost a quarter of the total population. 

As per the survey, younger voters from across several districts cited tackling unemployment as among the most pertinent points when looking at the election. 

Priority must be put towards introducing more policies at up-skilling the youths and providing more for the thousands of college graduates each year, a government teacher shared.  

Several others said that the protection of religious rights of minorities as a major consideration when deciding upon the right candidate to vote. 

The unresolved Indo-Naga political issue also remained at the forefront of all discussions among the voters. 

All of them voiced their concern for the leaders to reach a final agreement on the issue without further prolonging it indefinitely. 

“Its resolution holds immense significance not only for Nagaland but also for regional stability and national unity,” a voter from Dimapur commented.  

Adding further, “If elected, these candidates have the potential to contribute positively by advocating for meaningful dialogue and inclusive solutions, ultimately fostering peace and progress in the region.”

Even among the State’s elected representatives and candidates, the issue has been stressed ad nauseam since the beginning of the election cycle. 

“I will be the voice of the people of the State in taking up the issues of the Nagas, particularly the Naga political issue," Dr Murry was quoted as saying during the time of filing nominations.  Meanwhile, Jamir claimed that the Congress will resolve the problems faced by the people of Nagaland including solution to Naga political issue and Eastern Nagaland’s demand for Frontier Nagaland Territory after the INDIA bloc forms government at the Centre.

Incidentally, majority of the voters responded that they were unaware of what positions and political beliefs, the candidates hold beyond their party affiliation. 

“According to my observation all the three candidates lack political ideology of their own,” a youth of Kohima said.
“They, especially the PDA candidate and Congress rely only on party ideology which is not much relevant and captivating in the context of Nagaland,” he added.  

At the same time, the FNT has been a sticking point for the State as the Eastern Nagaland Peoples’ Organisation (ENPO) categorically maintaining its stance to abstain from the upcoming electoral processes. 

On this note, a youth from Mon stated that “the issue demands the full attention of the entire government for the fulfillment of FNT and towards peace building among the tribes and community at large.”

The survey also revealed that most, if not all of them, had never voted for the LS elections before. 

This is attributed to the fact that by and large, national elections lack the usual ‘excitement’ of the Assembly elections. 

Life rarely changes for most people whether or not the national elections are conducted, business owner from Kohima responded, showing huge disinterest.

On the other hand, a young college student from Dimapur held that “The state's unique socio-political landscape, marked by the ongoing Naga peace process and aspirations for autonomy, necessitates careful consideration of candidates' stances and capabilities.”

Moreover, “In my view, the most pressing issue for these candidates to address nationally is sustainable development, encompassing economic growth, infrastructure, and environmental conservation,” the student added. 

The State will go to the polls in the first phase of voting on April 19 to decide upon the outcome of the 18th Lok Sabha elections.