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Backing down

Backing down

In an unfortunate volte face, the Nagaland government has backed down from their decision to hold elections to Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) with 33 per cent reservations for women. The Naga People's Front-led government, which is in alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party, made an about turn after their decision was met with violent backlash from tribal groups. The protestors believe that 33 per cent reservation for women in ULBs is against their customary law and violates special rights guaranteed to Nagaland state under Article 371(A) of the Constitution. The clamour for Chief Minister TR Zeliang's resignation has grown louder by the day. In a desperate bid, Zeliang has sought the Centre's help to pass an ordinance, which would bail them out of this tricky situation.

The ordinance, according to the Press Trust of India, would "exempt the state from the provision of Part IX-A of the Constitution related to municipalities and ULBs, and their composition". It is a pity that the State government has decided to forsake the women of Nagaland, who have long fought for greater representation in municipal bodies in the face of a deeply patriarchal sections of Naga society. Arguments posed by protesting Naga groups against reservation for women stand on the fragile ground. Reservation was envisioned as a model of social justice for communities that have been subject to past discrimination. It is indeed naïve to assume that reservations violate Article 371 (A) and would adversely affect Naga culture. In fact, reservation for women in decision-making bodies and processes would indeed serve the purpose of social justice.

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