Post-poll survey: Puzzle of preference and electoral outcome in Nagaland

Protests against BJP did not check its advance

The Citizenship Amendment Bill and the Naga political issue were the glaring issues in the election in the State, besides references to religion and identity. The competitors for the lone Lok Sabha seat were Congress candidate K.L. Chishi backed by the Naga People’s Front (NPF); Tokheho Yepthomi from the Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP) representing the People’s Democratic Alliance with the BJP as a partner; M.M. Thromwa, an Independent candidate; and Hayithung Tungoe of the National People’s Party.

Mr. Yepthomi defeated Mr. Chishi by a thin margin of 16,344 votes. The trend of the Lok Sabha member getting elected from the State’s ruling party has been set since the first election in 1967. The only exception was in 1984.

The survey shows that three-fifths of the NPF’s 2014 voters transferred their votes to the Congress and one-third to the NDPP. But it seems that the vote transfer was not enough to ensure a Congress victory.

Likewise, the voting pattern among different tribes throws up a picture of traditional bastions shifting allegiances. The survey data suggest that over three-fourths of the voters from the Angami tribe, NPF’s traditional supporters, voted for the Congress. The votes from the Ao region, a traditional Congress bastion, seem to have got equally divided. Lothas and Chakhesangs too seem to have been divided. Though not captured in the survey sample, we assume that the ultimate swing in the votes favouring the NDPP came from the Mon tribal area.

A glaring pattern was the mismatch between voters’ opinions and preference against the actual election outcome. According to the survey, 48% of the respondents favoured Rahul Gandhi as the next Prime Minister against Narendra Modi getting only 25% support. As much as 48% did not want the NDA to have a second term, while 25% wanted the BJP back. Again, the emotive issue of the Bill was thought to be serious enough to checkmate the BJP’s advance. Three-fifths of the respondents (62%) were aware of the Bill and among them, 83% were found to be opposed to it.

However, data show the Bill was the single-most important issue for only 2% of the electorate.

(Amongla Jamir is Assistant Professor at Fazl Ali College, Mokokchung, Nagaland. Dr. Achanger is Assistant Professor at St. Joseph University, Dimapur, Nagaland)

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