Kohima: The first batch of 22 contestants filed their nominations for the February 27 Nagaland Assembly polls on the penultimate day on Tuesday, the state chief electoral officer (CEO) said.
The filing of nominations for the 60-member house had started on January 31, but all the political parties in the north-eastern state kept away till Tuesday as the Core Committee of Nagaland Tribal Hohos and Civil Organisations (CCNTHCO) had, through a joint declaration on January 29, appealed to them to refrain from participating in the election.
The CCNTHCO had sought the support of the political parties to its call for a solution to the protracted Naga political issue first.
The appeal for "solution, not election" by the Naga tribal organisations had forced the intending candidates to refrain from filing their nominations due to the fear of being the first to be marked as "anti-Naga". All political parties, except the BJP, had agreed not to contest the polls.
A 12-hour bandh was called by the CCNTHCO in the state on February 1 against the poll notification, despite the general appeal for a solution to the Naga political problem before the election.
However, as the CCNTHCO had left it to the political parties to decide on whether to participate in the polls or not, state Home Minister and Naga People's Front (NPF) nominee for the Phek seat, Kuzholuzo Azo Nienu was the first to file nomination today, sources in the CEO's office said.
Of the 22 nominations filed, seven were from the ruling NPF, six from the BJP, eight from the newly-floated Nagaland Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP) and one from the JD(U), state CEO Abhijit Sinha said.
The most prominent among them is three-time former chief minister and sitting Lok Sabha MP Neiphiu Rio, who is the NDPP's chief ministerial candidate from the Northern Angami-II seat.
The BJP has forged a pre-poll alliance with the NDPP.
Besides Nienu, two other ministers, Vikheho Swu and P Longon, Chief Minister T R Zeliang's advisors Chotisuh Sazo and T M Lotha also filed their papers. Lotha will contest on a BJP ticket, while the other three are NPF candidates.
Zeliang will file his nomination tomorrow, the last day of nomination-filing, NPF sources said.
A scrutiny of the nomination papers will be held on Thursday and the last date for withdrawal is February 12.
So far, the NPF has announced the names of 58 candidates, the BJP and its ally NDPP have named 20 and 38 nominees respectively, the Congress 23, the JD(U) 14, the NCP six and the National People's Party (NPP) has announced the names of 29 candidates.