Post Mortem

How Nagaland Voted for Lok Sabha Election 2019?

By Nagaland Post | Publish Date: 5/26/2019 11:42:10 AM IST

 The survey findings in the article is based on the National Election Study 2019 (NES 2019), Nagaland: Post-poll survey conducted by a team of scholars and field investigators from Nagaland and coordinated by Lokniti, Programme for Comparative Democracy at the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS), Delhi.  The purpose of the post poll survey was to understand the voting behaviour of the voters and why voters chose the parties and candidates.

For this survey, we selected samples from 9 (nine) Assembly Constituencies (AC) using Probability Proportional to Size Method (PPS). Within the Assembly Constituencies, 3 (three) polling stations were selected from each sampled constituencies using the Systematic Random Sampling (SRS) technique. The respondents were also selected using SRS method from the latest updated electoral rolls. From each polling station, 20 persons were selected using SRS method from electoral rolls. The survey was conducted through F2F interview method (Face to Face) using questionnaire as a tool by trained Field Investigators. This enabled us to collect information of the respondents’ socio-economic background and place their political opinions and voting decisions in a broad spectrum. 

After the statehood, the new state went to the General election for the first time in 1964 and later on in 1967 Nagaland participated in its first election to Lok Sabha. Till now, Nagaland has witnessed 15th Lok Sabha general election. Since then, INC won the maximum number of times (i.e.5 times).  But in the last five Lok Sabha elections, NPF won three times and NDPP twice: by poll and recently concluded Lok Sabha election. 

Electoral Choice 

The Lok Sabha election 2019, confirmed a few significant trends in electoral politics of Nagaland but the most important trends were: in terms of preference between party and candidate and the traditional trend of voters swinging towards party in power in the state as well as in the centre was again endorsed.  

The survey conducted indicated a close battle between NDPP (41.1%) and Congress (40.2 %) as shown in the table 1 below. As per the recent concluded election results, candidate Tokheho Yeothomi (NDPP) secured 500510 (49.73%) of votes and K.L. Chishi (INC) secured 484166 (48.11%) of votes.

Table 1: How Party Voted for Lok Sabha 2019 (Nagaland)?

Parties Frequency Percent Valid Percent Cumulative Percent

Congress 153 40.2 44.00 44.00

BJP 24 6.4 7.0 51.0

NDPP 157 41.1 45.0 96.0

Others 14 3.7 4.0 100.0

Total 348 91.3 100.0

Not Voted 33 8.7

Source: NES 2019 Post Poll Survey by Lokniti-CSDS, Note: Figures are percentages, Sample size: 381

Even thought the contest was quadruple, the competition was between the two popular candidates K.L. Chishi and Tokheho Yepthomi. The performance of the Congress was very close to ruling PDA candidate despite the poor result during the State Assembly election, which was clearly a by product of alliance between Congress and NPF. But the push factor for a close fight was the preferences of INC party over BJP as CSDS- Post Poll survey indicated: like for Congress (a lot: 20.2%, somewhat: 52.5%, don’t like at all: 3.4%) whereas like for BJP (a lot: 3.9%, somewhat: 31.3%, don’t like at all: 33.3%). This can be correlated to voter’s preference between party and candidate, as there is little difference in voter’s choice as seen in the table 2 below:
Table 2: People have different considerations when they go out to vote. What was the most important consideration for you when you voted in the Lok Sabha election - party or candidate?
Frequency Percent Valid Percent Cumulative Percent
Party 138 36.3 36.3 36.3
Candidate 161 42.2 42.2 78.4
PM candidate 22 5.8 5.8 84.2
Can’t Say 34 8.8 8.8 93.0
No response 27 7.0 7.0 100.0
Total 381 100.0 100.0
Source: NES 2019 Post Poll Survey by Lokniti-CSDS, Note: Figures are percentages, Sample size: 381
The tradition ‘candidate’ preference of voting during most of the State General election was not manifest emphatically. Apart from the game changer in the politics of Nagaland, that is, money and proxy voting, it could be also because of the general perception with voters as a contest between Congress and BJP, where the latter is considered as anti-christian. Second, based on the current election results in almost all the Assembly constituencies the margins of victory for both the competing parties (NDPP and INC) did not have huge vote’s differences but the decisive factor that might have elevated the vote share of NDPP could be ‘candidate’ effect of sitting MLAs of NPF who were earlier suspended by NPF from the party. As in most assemblies constituencies there were huge differences in terms of NDPP and INC votes voted. Third, interestingly, preference for prime ministerial candidate was a least significant for voters while voting for Lok Sabha election. 
Another trend that was further consolidated despite Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) being the most blazing issue for North East India was swaying away towards party in power in the state as well as in the centre. When asked whether they are aware of CAB: more than half (61.7%) were aware and third of the respondents (38.3%) were unaware. Those who answered “aware” were further asked whether they support or oppose the bill. Here, more than 47% responded that they fully oppose the bill, where as 5.7% fully support the bill. Moreover, when asked further whether took part in any protest demonstration related to CAB: 49.8% responded ‘NO’ and 8.9% responded ‘Yes’. There were also other issues mentioned by voters while voting in this election such as development, lack of economic growth, and lack of jobs, unemployment. This either might signifies we Nagas are too complacency, too ignorant on issue based, fallen to the populist elite politics and know how to use Damocles sword for personal gains when elections are round the corner. 
An observation that I would like to mention is apart from politics as electoral politics, politics depends upon between elections. As it is equally important to understand development and governance outcomes shaped by the government between elections in the delivery of public services to the citizens and how the opinion of public is regarded as a constructive force in a democracy. It often believed regional parties cannot arise out of a vacuum and come up simply to represent the regional identity and the views of the people already prevalent. Regional parties are thus the medium through which a discourse on cultural specificity is translated into political assertiveness. 
Dr. Achanger, 
St. Joseph University 

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