Will Nagas elect a woman MLA this time?

Despite the higher literacy rate among the women, Nagaland has never elected a woman to its Assembly. However, this time five women candidates are trying their luck for February 27 elections.

Of the 227 candidates who are in the fray, the National People’s Party has fielded two women candidates — Wedie-U Kronu and K. Mangyan-gpula, an alternative medicine practitioner, while the Nationalistic Democratic Progressive Party and BJP have fielded one woman candidate each, Awan Konyak, daughter of four-time MLA Nyeiw-ang Konyak, and Rakhila. The fifth woman, Rekha Rose, is contesting as an Independent candidate.

The only woman parliamentarian from the state was Rano M. Shaiza, who was elected to the Lok Sabha in 1977. Since the state was formed in 1963, only 30 women have contested the Assembly polls, but none could win.

“Unlike other political parties who always disco-uraged women from contesting polls, the BJP has reposed faith in me for the second time. In 2013, I lost by just 800 votes. I am confident of a win this time,” said Ms Rakhila, BJP candidate from Tuensang Sadar-II seat.

The women in Nagaland don’t enjoy the right to inherit property and are yet to be represented in elected bodies like municipal councils and state Assembly, keeping them away from decision-making processes.

Tribal customary laws of Nagaland are protected under Article 371(A) of the Constitution. Women are not part of village councils as per these laws. They have 25 per cent reservation in village development boards, but don’t have much say in crucial matters.

Another candidate in the fray, Rekha Rose Dukru, said, “I want to fight the election because I want to see a Nagaland which is developed and corruption free. But there’s pressure on me to quit. Even when I went to file nominations, I was told not to go ahead.” (Agencies)