By-election to two seats in the Nagaland Assembly on November 3 is poised for tight battles with multiple candidates in the fray – 3 candidates in Southern Angami-I constituency and 5 in Pungro-Kiphire constituency.
In Southern Angami, the ruling Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP) has fielded a former youth leader and social worker Medo Yhokha while opposition Naga People’s Front (NPF) is being represented by Kikovi Kirha who is an entrepreneur. They will have a triangular face-off with independent candidate Seyievilie Peter Zashumo, former PA of former NLA Speaker late Vikho-o Yhoshü whose demise in December 2019 necessitated the by-poll for the Southern Angami seat.
In Pungro-Kiphire, Lirimong Sangtam of NDPP’s ally Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Congress’s Khaseo Anar will battle with three independent candidates S Kiusumew Yimchunger, K Shellumthong Yhimchunger and T Yangseo Sangtam. Interestingly, opposition NPF has let go of the Pungro-Kiphire seat which used to be a regional bastion. The assembly seat was lying vacant following the demise of the sitting MLA T Torechu of the NPF in December 2019.
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Southern Angami constituency has a total of 13,641 electorate while Pungro-Kiphire has 29,601.
According to the chief electoral officer (CEO) Nagaland, Abhijit Sinha, more than 50 percent of the 22 polling stations under Southern Angami and 40 percent of 70 (+7 auxiliary) under Pungro-Kiphire have been classified as vulnerable/critical from the security viewpoint. Therefore, special focus is being given on those polling stations.
With this by-poll being the first election since the Covid-19 pandemic, several provisions were made for the safety and convenience of vulnerable voters including people with disabilities, people above 80 years of age and Covid-19 patients, the CEO informed. He said under this category, 152 voters in Southern Angami and 196 in Pungro-Kiphire have already cast their votes via postal ballot as per the ECI guidelines.
“All arrangements are in place for the conduct of peaceful, free, fair and safe manner. My appeal to the voters of both the constituencies is to come out for voting, and follow covid safety protocols which, polling officials will be reminding you of, at the time of polling,” Sinha said.