‘Being a Democracy, is this really the way things should be like?’

Participants at the 13th National Voters Day held in Kohima at Hotel Japfü on January 25.

Participants at the 13th National Voters Day held in Kohima at Hotel Japfü on January 25.

Nagaland’s first time voters censure growing indifference among Naga public on electoral malpractices 

Morung Express News
Kohima | January 25

“When we study about our political system, everything appears to be plain and simple and we understand that a person has the right to vote for the candidate of their choice but reality presents a very different picture,” 18 years old Khriesee Sophie, a first time voter in Nagaland. 

“Getting to vote should make me feel like I have an important part to play but now that I am old enough to vote, I'm beginning to wonder if the value of my vote is really there,” Sophie said during the state level programme of the 13th National Voters Day held under the theme ‘Nothing Like Voting, I Vote For Sure’ at Hotel Japfü on January 25. 

Narrating incidents of proxy votes, Sophie pointed out the growing indifference among the Naga public on such malpractices. The young voter expressed disappointment and surprise over selling of one’s votes and how polling officials can allow such incidents to occur under their watch. 

“Being a Democracy, is this really the way things should be like? If the present generation grows up feeling this way that their votes are without much value we will surely influence the next generation and the cycle will continue,” expressed Sophie.

“I have hopes and expectations that we can surely change and I look forward to the day when I can be a proud voter. As of now it is my firm resolution that I will never ever sell my vote nor will I abstain from voting so as to prevent others from proxy voting in my name,” the young voter avowed.

18 year-old Tejodeno Viphrezol Zao speaking on the same occasion expressed optimism in becoming a first time voter where she is finally accepted for her actions in society, have the power to make someone win in the elections, and to choose leaders for the welfare of the society.

“In a country like ours, there are endless loopholes as the whole system of democracy in itself is a fallacy where the party or men in power has every option to bend the rules which best suits his or her own ideology or the citizens itself who falls into bribery. But we the fresh voters still hope that there will be free and fair election among all of us,” Zao said. 

“We are excited to finally be able to vote and make the right decision for us to be ready to be responsible for our actions and hope for the best results in our State,” she added while expressing hope that the leaders will make the best abilities of their power to change our Nagaland.

‘Elections are at heart of any democratic system’

V Shashank Shekhar, IAS, Chief Electoral Officer Nagaland, in his speech stated that the National Voter’s Day is a day when all the citizens can remember their rights and responsibilities as voters, and this year is an added significance due to the forthcoming Assembly Election in Nagaland.

Nagaland currently have 13,17,632 voters including 7,981 service voters. The gender ratio stands at 1004 i.e. for every 1000 male voters there are 1004 female voters, informed the CEO.

“Elections are at the heart of any democratic system of governance. In our country also constitution has adopted a democratic system of governance. The Election Commission and all the election machinery in the state puts in considerable efforts to ensure a free & fair election including by involvement of various enforcement agencies – State & Central. The police, excise, income tax, enforcement directorate, narcotics control bureau and many other agencies are involved. This effort will be complete with the complementary efforts of alert and vigilant citizens and all stakeholders,” he stated.

The CEO also reminded about the c-vigil app which every citizen can download and use to take realtime photos/vidoes of any electoral malpractice and upload it. Action will be taken immediately on it by the administration, flying squads etc.

“Society in Nagaland is inherently democratic and gives space and voice to all sections of society including the common man. I hope you all agree with me on this. We hope that this true spirit of democracy will manifest in the formal electoral system also,” expressed Shekhar.  

Perspective of National Voters Day

Sharing the perspective and background of the National Voters Day, Shanavas C, IAS, Deputy Commissioner & District Election Officer, Kohima stated that ‘January 25 has a special mention because January 26 is Republic day.’

“India became a Republic is 1950, and the Election Commission was also formed in the same year. A country becomes a Republic in the hope that this Democracy we are holding on to, will stay forever. And till date, India as a country is the largest democracy in the world. We are able to form the government in the state and the national level and democracy is upheld,” he said. 

With this hope, this year too has a special relevance as Nagaland celebrate the National Voters Day because the State will be going to the polls on February 27, according to Shanavas. 

“We need more villages and public to come forward for Clean Election so that election is festive and free from any influence. And we the election machinery will ensure that election is conducted in a peaceful atmosphere,” the Kohima DC said and informed that this year the Election Commission will ensure the option of postal ballots for Persons with Disabilities (PwDs).

Three Village Councils-Nihokhu Village Council, Niuland, Thizama Village Council, Kohima, and Kiruphema Basa Village Council, Kohima- were felicitated for resolving for a free and fair election.

The CEO also administered the NVD pledge and speech. Welcome address was delivered by Ruokuovituo Khezhie, Addl. Chief Electoral Officer, Nagaland. A special number ‘My vote is My Future’ was presented by Nyensang Oungh and Visheto Kasho, Mount Hermon Hr Sec School, Kohima, participants in the ECI's National Voters Awareness Contest, 2022, while Mughato Achumi from the Persons with Disability (PwD) community presented a solo.