The BJP has fielded six women candidates in Meghalaya and one among 20 nominees in Nagaland. It’s ally NDPP-led by Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio, and Chingwang Konyak has also fielded two women candidates this year.
Projecting ‘Matri Shakti’ has been Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s much cherished political mission in the North East. In the run-up to the Manipur polls, the BJP had appointed the first woman president of the state unit in A Sharda Devi. The move had brought in dividends.
The women candidates in Meghalaya are Ferlin C A Sangma, Marian Maring, Riya Sangma, Arena Hynniewta, Bity Jywra and Darikmen L Marshillong.
In Nagaland, BJP’s lone woman nominee is Kahuli Sema from Atouizu. The Rio-led NDPP has fielded Hekani Jakhalu from Dimapur-III and S Kruse from Western Angami.
The BJP has also given a ‘Matri shakti’ push in another northeastern state of Tripura.
There were six women candidates in the first list of 48 candidates.
In Tripura, the BJP has also fielded a lawmaker in Parliament and also Union Minister Pratima Bhaumik from Dhanpur.
In fact, in 2021, Bhaumick became the first Tripura resident and only the second woman from the Northeast to be a Union Minister.
Pratima Bhaumik was also involved in the Manipur polls as one of the co-in charges. She could likely be given a more prominent role in her state Tripura.
Nagaland has never elected a woman to its state legislature. Women do contest elections occasionally but are not considered winnable candidates.
Prior to 2022, the only instance of Nagaland could send a woman to Parliament was in the 1970s.
Rano Shaiza was elected as Nagaland MP to the Lok Sabha as a United Democratic Front (UDF) party candidate, defeating the sitting Congress chief minister Hokishe Sema in the post Emergency anti-Congress wave in 1977.
In 2022, the BJP sprang a surprise and fielded S Phangnon Konyak from Mon district for the Rajya Sabha polls. She won uncontested.
Nagaland has a high literacy rate, and English is its official language. However, the Nagaland Assembly holds the dubious distinction of opposing the women’s reservation bill in 1996.
In 1997, during Congress rule, the then parliamentary affairs minister, Zhove Lohe, moved a resolution, which the Assembly passed unanimously.
The Naga Students’ Federation (NSF), an influential pressure group, too had written to the parliamentary select committee chairperson Geeta Mukherjee, saying the women’s bill went against Naga tradition.
Even the women’s reservation in urban local bodies has been vehemently opposed.
It may be mentioned here that, addressing a workshop of Mizoram legislators in 2009, the country’s first female speaker of the Lok Sabha, Meira Kumar, had underlined that it was high time for the
state to have women MLAs.
Mizoram had its first female state legislator in 1984 when it was still a Union Territory. K Thansiami was elected on a Mizoram People’s Conference ticket. But not much progress has been made since then.
Mizoram’s only woman minister has been Lalhlimpui, who was elected to the Assembly in 1987. She served as a minister under chief minister Laldenga, a former insurgent rebel leader.
After that, there was a 27-year drought. It was only in 2014 when C Lalawmpuii won the Hrangturzo assembly by-election as a Congress candidate.