Candidates for the upcoming civic polls in Nagaland are caught in a nutcracker, with local bodies threatening them with social boycott unless they pull out while their respective parties have warned them of disciplinary action if they quit.
The threat of social boycott forced 68 candidates to withdraw their nominations by Monday evening.
Tuesday is the last date of withdrawal of nominations and there is tense anticipation about how many of the 467 candidates left in the fray in 26 of the 32 municipal and town councils will decide against contesting the urban local bodies (ULB) polls.
No candidates filed nominations in six other municipal and town councils for the election to be held on February 1.
Naga Hoho (the apex body of 16 tribes in Nagaland) and other tribal organisations in Nagaland have opposed 33% reservation of women in civic polls on the ground that it will infringe on customary laws that do not give administrative rights to women.
The organisations have asked all candidates to withdraw, stating reservation for women will infringe on Article 371A of the Constitution that grants special status to Nagaland and guarantees preservation of customary laws.
There is a threat of banishment and excommunication against those who fail to withdraw their nominations and contest the polls, which are being held after a gap of 10 years.
Nagaland has never elected a woman legislator to the assembly since it gained statehood in 1963. The lone woman MP from the state was late Rano M Shaiza, who got elected in 1977.
Despite the diktat, the ruling Naga Peoples’ Front (NPF) has decided to go ahead with the polls and has threatened party candidates with disciplinary action if they withdraw their candidatures.
BJP, which is part of the NPF-led Democratic Alliance of Nagaland, has also issued a whip to party candidates against leaving the contest.
Notwithstanding warning from their parties, 16 NPF candidates and 1 from BJP have withdrawn nominations. Nine candidates from Congress and 42 Independent contestants had also opted out by Monday.