Nagaland ULB polls: Woman candidate eyes historic opportunity after long wait

Akokla Pongen Lucy, a 58-year-old social worker seeks to contest from Ward 13 under Dimapur Municipal Council.

Akokla Pongen Lucy, a 58-year-old social worker seeks to contest from Ward 13 under Dimapur Municipal Council.

Akokla Pongen is preparing to contest civic polls since 2017.

Morung Express News 
Dimapur | May 26

Nagaland is expected to conduct its first Urban Local Bodies (ULB) elections with 33% women reservation after nearly 20 years when the first and only time polling was conducted in 2004. An estimated 142 seats will be solely reserved for women candidates out of a total 418 wards. 

Among them, Akokla Pongen Lucy is an intending candidate who has her eyes fixed on contesting from Ward 13 (reserved) under Dimapur Municipal Council.

For her, this election should set a good track record by the candidates, laying the ground work for future generations. 

Speaking with The Morung Express at her private residence in Dimapur, the 58-year-old social worker stated that she has been preparing to contest for the ULB election since 2017.

Given the long hard battle fought by the Naga Mothers Association (NMA) to advocate for women reservation, she ‘vowed’ to utilise this opportunity to bring about social up-liftment and transformative change across society.

A long awaited opportunity
The Nagaland Municipal and Town Council Act was first passed in the year 2001 without the provision of reserving 33% of the seats for women, as required under Article 243T of the Constitution. 

This was later amended in 2006. However the State has missed out on holding ULB elections several times due to objections from civil bodies against what they termed as infringement upon Article 371 (A).  

The most serious contention came in the year 2017 when two youths were killed during violent protests in Dimapur leading to the cancellation of the elections. 

In November 2023, a new act was passed by the State government with reservation for women. 

Pongen stated that she had been among the first group of women candidates to file nomination for the ULBs in 2017. 

In spite of seven years passed, her hopes of being part of the decision making process at the local level remains resolute.

Moreover, with the election of two women leaders for Nagaland’s Legislative Assembly last year, she believes times are changing.

National awardee and decade long social worker  
Among her many accomplishments as a women leader and social worker, Pongen has led several organisations both in the political and social realm. Among them, she has been the Board of directors & treasurer of Bhartiya farmers agro business Development Co-operative limited, promoter of Self Help Group & Women co-operator. President of Rotary Club Dimapur, 2011-12, General Secretary and President of BJP (Mahila) Nagaland 2005-09, Vice President of NDPP Nagaland 2018-23, Member women committee national co-operative union of India, New Delhi 2021 till date and also the current President of petroleum dealers association, Nagaland from 2020. 

Pongsen was also awarded the National Sahakarita Ratna Award for the year 2015-16 in recognition to outstanding contribution towards development and strengthening of co-operative movement in the State as well as in other Northeastern states. 

Besides being a single mother of a daughter, she founded the ‘House of Friendship’ old age home in Dimapur for senior citizens. “From my childhood days, I have been very active in society,” she said.  

Let individual capability decide on outcome
According to Pongen the determining factor for candidates should be based on their calibre and ideas and not based on personal wealth or political background. This is all the more imperative for women who will be sitting in elected positions of power for the first time at the local level, she said. Adding that, ‘No one should be misusing the rights and privileges guaranteed by the act by indulging in any kind of corruption.” 

In addition, she stated that the candidate needs to be articulate in their ideas, well-versed and educated on issues concerning their wards. 

Pongen maintained that she is a staunch proponent for the continued enforcement of the Nagaland Liquor Total Prohibition (NLTP) Act.

For which she stressedon the need for recruitment of more female personnel in the Excise Department and impressing upon the Church to play a more active role through counseling and setting up of rehab centers.

If elected she vouched for a stricter oversight of illegal liquor establishment set up across different wards and localities. 

Considering Dimapur is the main commercial hub for the State, Pongen affirmed that the district is in much need of transformative change both socially, economically and politically.