Money power rules: It’s a contest between ‘crorepatis’ in Nagaland elections
Kohima, Feb 22: Politics in Nagaland is not an easy affair. It is tricky, risky and difficult to understand. Amid all these problems, as Nagaland is finally set to vote for the upcoming Assembly elections 2018 after political parties revoke their initial decision to boycott polls, it is the "money power" that is raising several eyebrows. The Assembly elections in Nagaland are scheduled on February 27. In fact, Meghalaya is also voting for the Assembly elections on the same day. Tripura has voted for the Assembly elections on February 18. The Assembly election results of all the three states will be declared on March 3.
According to a report by the Association of Democratic Reforms (ADR) and the Nagaland Election Watch (NEW), 59 per cent of candidates for the Nagaland Assembly elections are crorepatis. Both the ADR and NEW have analysed the self-sworn affidavits of 193 out of 196 candidates for the Nagaland 2018 Assembly elections. The affidavits of three candidates were not analysed because of "missing and unreadable information".
The report said that out of the 193 candidates, 114 (59 per cent) are crorepatis. Since so many candidates are crorepatis, it seems the elections are all about a fight between the rich versus rich. The report finds out that average asset per candidate is Rs 3.37 crore.
Ramongo Lotha, the JD (U) leader who is contesting election from the Sanis constituency, is the richest politician in the election fray. His total asset is almost Rs 39 crore. One candidate, Akavi N Zhimomi of the AAP contesting from the Ghaspani-I constituency has declared zero assets in his affidavit.
The ADR report said, "43 (77 per cent) out of 56 candidates from NPF, 24 (62 per cent) out of 39 candidates from NDPP, 13 (65 per cent) out of 20 candidates from BJP, 12 (48 per cent) out of 25 candidates from NPP, 7 (54 per cent) out of 13 candidates from JD(U), and 6 (33 per cent) out of 18 candidates from INC have declared assets worth more than Rs 1 crore."
The ADR-NEW report also found out that out of the 193 candidates, 3(2 per cent) candidates have declared criminal cases against themselves.
It is not just crorepati candidates who have brought the focus on money power during the election season in the hill state. Reports say that huge amount of money are being utilised by parties and candidates to buy voters.
So far over Rs 50 lakh in cash, 40,000 litres of liquor and drugs have been seized, Nagaland chief electoral officer Abhijit Sinha said recently. The Election office has deployed flying squads and static surveillance teams to check the use of money and other means to induce voters.