ENPO says its stance on ULB polls legitimate as well as constitutional

Tuensang: Stand rooted in demand for creation of “Frontier Nagaland Territory, nothing to do with women reservation, says ENPO

BY | Friday, 7 June, 2024

In response to the show cause notice from the State Election Commission, the Eastern Nagaland People’s Organisation (ENPO) has said that its stance on abstention from participation in the forthcoming Urban Local Bodies (ULB) elections is an exercise of the people’s democratic right to free speech and assembly, as guaranteed by the Constitution under Article 19. “…it is in no way intended to infringe upon or interfere with the individual rights of the electorate, nor to contravene any legal or constitutional provisions governing the conduct of elections,” ENPO President R. Tsapikiu Sangtam stated.

The apex body of the seven tribes of Eastern Nagaland stated that its stand is rooted in a deeply felt conviction regarding the context of the demand for the creation of “Frontier Nagaland Territory”. “The ENPO’s position is evident in our commitment to advocating for the rights and interests of the people of Eastern Nagaland, and we have consistently emphasised that our call for abstention is a peaceful and democratic means of drawing attention to issues that we believe are critical to the socio-economic development of our region,” it said.

The Organisation maintained that it operates “solely on the basis of voluntary participation and consensus among the people and that all its actions and declarations are “driven by collective will and mutual agreement, rather than any form of coercion or enforcement capability.”

“Consequently, the resolutions and statements issued by the ENPO reflect the genuine and uncoerced consensus of the Eastern Naga people, emphasising our commitment to democratic processes and the free exercise of individual rights within our collective framework,” it added.

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Further, ENPO reminded the State Election Commission that the Supreme Court of India, in various judgments, has upheld the right to not vote as an extension of the freedom of expression and therefore “choosing not to participate in an electoral process is a legitimate as well as constitutional form of expressing dissent.”

The Organisation said that it has taken note of SEC emphasising the importance of individual choice in electoral participation but insisted that its public stance and call for abstention “does not seek to subvert individual autonomy but rather to express a collective will that reflects the shared concerns and aspirations of the Eastern Naga community that ENPO represents.”

Each individual member of the ENPO region retains their fundamental right to act in accordance with their personal conscience, making independent choices free from coercion or undue pressure from any quarter, it stated.

Furthermore, it asserted that its decision to abstain from participation in the ULB polls has no relation to the Supreme Court’s directive on the implementation of 1/3rd reservation for women.

The apex organisation affirmed its commitment to the principles of legality and democracy, and dedication to safeguarding the rule of law and upholding the democratic rights of every citizen. “In light of this, we earnestly implore the State Election Commission, Nagaland, to approach our response with a disposition conducive to constructive democratic engagement, recognizing and respecting our inherent right to engage in peaceful constitutional protest as an integral aspect of democratic discourse and civic participation,” ENPO stated.

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