“Zero” votes cast across Eastern Nagaland dists

Polling officials display an Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) with zero votes cast at a polling station in Tuensang district. (Morung Photo)

Morung Express News
Dimapur / Kiphire /Tuensang | April 19 

Adhering to the call of Eastern Nagaland People's Organization (ENPO) to abstain from taking part in Lok Sabha Election 2024 by the letter, the six districts of Eastern Nagaland on Friday recorded nil voting percentage as citizens remained indoors and polling stations were left empty. Apart from the extraordinary display of absenteeism, no untoward incidents were reported. 

Out of Nagaland's total 13.25 lakh voters, the six districts in Eastern Nagaland namely Tuensang, Shamator, Kiphire, Noklak, Mon and Longleng account for 334,124 voters. 

According to data shared by the Chief Electoral Officer Nagaland, the approximate voter turnout trend at 4 pm in all the six districts across Eastern Nagaland was recorded as “Nil.” 

Reports from polling officials across Eastern Nagaland also highlighted that none turned up to vote at the 738 polling stations spanning across 20 Assembly Constituencies, The Morung Express correspondents have reported.  Even the 20 MLAs of the area refrained from casting their votes, it was learnt. Residences of Eastern Nagaland legislators were cordoned off by volunteers of respective tribal organisations to avoid any law and order situation.

In Kiphire district, the day passed off without any untoward incidents as citizens kept to their homes. Similarly, in Tuensang district, the 80 polling stations reported a complete absence of voter turnout. The same scenario was witnessed in districts of Mon, Longleng, Noklak and Shamator. 

The decision to abstain from participating in the electoral process stemmed from the Chenmoho Resolution enacted on February 23, 2024, “not to participate in any Central and State election” while pressing for the realisation of the Frontier Nagaland Territory (FNT) demand. 

In a public notice, the ENPO had also called for an indefinite total shutdown with effect from 5 pm April 18 all over Eastern Nagaland jurisdiction. 

On Friday, Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio affirmed that the state government does not have any problem with the ENPO’s demand for FNT as it has already recommended autonomous powers for the region.


Polling as usual in ‘western’  Yimkhiung & Sangtam villages 

Meanwhile, in Dimapur, Chümoukedima and Niuland districts, polling went ahead as scheduled in villages, which identify as western Yimkhiung and western Sangtam. There are as many as 3 Yimkhiung villages in Niuland district, while there are two Sangtam villages in Chümoukedima and one in Dimapur district. 

As polling progressed during the day, The Morung Express interacted with the villagers on the rationale for voting despite the electors from the six eastern districts —under the banner of the ENPO, abstaining en masse from voting.

As per the villagers, the decision to vote was based on a technicality i.e. geographical jurisdiction. In Old Showuba village, with an electorate of over 1700 voters, a village elder said that the ENPO decision to boycott the elections was confined to the districts of Mon, Tuensang, Longleng, Kiphire, Shamator and Noklak. 

Like the eastern Sumi siding with the ENPO, the elder maintained it would be only sensible for the western Yimkhiung to partake in the polls from a development perspective. He maintained that the decision was in no way intended to offend the ENPO or undermine its demand. 

Similar sentiment was shared by village leaders in Tsithrongse and Murise villages, which fall in Chümoukedima, and Sangtamtilla village, which falls in Dimapur district. “This is my village, my home is here and my vote is registered here,” said an elder of Tsithrongse village. He expressed solidarity with the ENPO demand and maintained that the ENPO, aware of the village’s rationale, would not take offence. The village has a registered electorate of 600-plus. 

Villagers in Murise and Sangtamtilla echoed more or less the same view. Village leaders in both the villages maintained that the decision to participate in the polls in no way send out a negative to the ENPO cause. “It does not mean that we are not supportive of the ENPO demand. Our solidarity is with the ENPO’s demand,” said one.