A recent report by the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) has revealed that the assets of 47 of the 53 recontesting members of the Nagaland Assembly have seen a dramatic increase from 0.1% to 6870%. The report was released just a week before the assembly elections, which are due to take place on February 27.
According to the ADR report, the average assets of the 53 contesting MLAs have increased by ₹1.64 crores, from ₹5.46 crore in 2018 to ₹7.10 crore in 2023, with an average growth of 30%. The report analysed the self-sworn affidavits of the 53 contesting MLAs, including those fielded by various political parties and independents.
The Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP) had the highest average assets of ₹2 crores, with a significant increase in the assets of its 24 MLAs. The top two leaders with the highest increase in assets were from the NDPP, with B.S. Ngan Hang Phone from the Tamlu constituency recorded a whopping 6870% increase in assets, from ₹21.91 lakhs in 2018 to ₹15.27 crore in 2023. Similarly, Neiphiu Rio, who represented the Northern Angami-II constituency, showed an increase in assets by ₹10.53 crore.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) also saw a significant increase in assets, with 12 of its MLAs’ assets surging from ₹3 crores in 2018 to nearly ₹5.5 crores in 2023, a 43.6% increase. The assets of BJP MLA H. Tovihoto Ayemi, representing the Dimapur constituency, rose by 420% from ₹1.78 crores in 2018 to ₹9.27 crore in 2023.
The ADR report also noted that five MLAs of the Lok Janshakti Party (Ram Vilas) had shown an increase in assets by 43.07%, while seven MLAs of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) had a 29.32% surge. The other five MLAs from the Naga People’s Front (NPF) (3), IND (1), and the Republican Party of India (Athawale) (1) had shown a growth of 12.27%, 7.45%, and 7.07% respectively in their assets.
The report has raised concerns about the transparency and accountability of political leaders in Nagaland, with allegations of corruption and the misuse of public funds. The increase in assets has been seen as disproportionate and inconsistent with the income and salary of the MLAs. The ADR report has been hailed as a wake-up call for voters to scrutinise the records of the candidates before casting their votes.
The Nagaland assembly elections are crucial for the NDPP and the BJP, who have formed an alliance and are contesting the elections. The NDPP has fielded candidates in 40 seats, while the BJP is aiming to win the remaining 20 seats. The majority mark in the Nagaland Assembly to form the government is 31.
The ADR report has added a new dimension to the Nagaland assembly elections, with the focus now shifting to the credibility and accountability of the political leaders. The voters are expected to scrutinise the records of the candidates and demand transparency and honesty in public life. The outcome of the Nagaland assembly elections will be closely watched, not just in the state, but across the country, as it could have a ripple effect on the national political scenario.