In its endeavour to encourage youths of Nagaland to be active and responsible citizens, YouthNet in association with the Association for Democratic Reforms, along with concerned citizens formed the Nagaland Election Watch (NEW). As a result, a survey was conducted on all the candidates contesting in the Nagaland General Assembly Elections 2008 under the theme, “Clean Candidate, Clean Governance.”
The areas of assessment during this survey were Criminalization in Politics, Financial Matters, Educational level, Women Representation and Age Profile. The NEW collected the affidavits filed by candidates along with their nomination papers and collected them for better comprehension of the voters. The main objective was to raise voter awareness in order to enable them to make an informed choice while casting their vote.
Nagaland went to the polls on March 5, 2008 for the 11th Assembly election, which perhaps witnessed a very expensive and violent election. As a follow-up of the Electoral Reform initiative, YouthNet headed by Joshua Sheqi, conducted a survey to assess how much money was spent during the 2008 elections to address the existing culture of election related corruption in the state which has become a deeply disturbing trend. To carry out the survey, youth representatives from all the 11 districts came together, to collaborate and collect information from their respective districts on which a report was made.
The Post Election Watch revealed that the small state of Nagaland with only 60 constituencies had wasted approximately Rs. 570, 00, 000/- (Five hundred and seventy crores) in four months by the candidates as election expenditure.
During the 12th Nagaland Assembly elections in 2013, 7 political parties (recognised and unrecognised), i.e. the Naga People’s Front, Indian National Congress, Bharatiya Janata Party, Nationalist Congress Party, Rashtriya Janata Dal, Janata Dal (United) and UNDP, and 37 Independent candidates joined the fray.
In the 2008 Elections, an approximate amount of Rs 569, 96,00000/- (Rupees five hundred and sixty nine crores and ninety six lakhs) was spent to buy votes and to muscle manpower during election. The report was widely distributed by publishing in all the major local dailies and to the State Government and likeminded people, so that the trend of random spending would be reduced in the 2013 elections.
However, the staggering amount of Rs. 937,82,67,500/- (Rupees nine hundred and thirty seven crores, eighty lakhs, sixty seven thousand and five hundred) is found to be approximately spent in the 23 February, 2013 elections. The amount spent in 2013 is almost twice the amount spent in 2008.
With the same objective as that of 2008 Post Election Watch, a follow-up of YouthNet Electoral Reform initiative, the survey was made to assess how much money was spent during the 2013 elections.
This research was made out of an exhaustive effort to bring to the notice of the people of Nagaland on how the wrong election system is affecting the alarming level of corruption in our State today.
The present system of election creates a vicious circle—wealth drainage during election— rampant corruption of cut/share system from funds meant for development— no development/no productivity—stagnation of job both in the public and private sector— unemployment and poverty— resulting in the same system of election.
The startling revelation of spending an approximate total of Rs 569, 96,00000/- (Rupees five hundred and sixty nine crores and ninety six lakhs) in 2008 elections and Rs. 937,82,67,500/- (Rupees nine hundred and thirty seven crores, eighty lakhs, sixty seven thousand and five hundred) in the 2013 elections, is an alarming call to all the people with conscience, especially the educated youths of today.
It may be noted that the main purpose of conducting this study by YouthNet is an effort towards Electoral Reform and also creating accountable and transparent governance in the State. There is no intention of maligning any individual or any political party whatsoever. In fact, the awakening of the people’s conscience would help the politicians and leaders as a whole, to serve the people better towards all round development.