Nagaland voters created history by electing two women candidates – Salhoutuonuo Kruse and Hekani Jakhalu – for the first time to the state’s 59-year-old assembly on March 2.
Both candidates are from the ruling Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP). While Salhoutuonuo Kruse won from the Western Angami AC, Hekani Jakhalu clinched Dimapur-III.
Several women candidates were in the fray in the past elections to the Nagaland legislative assembly, but none could emerge victorious.
Forty-eight-year-old lawyer-activist Hekani Jakhalu – a Delhi University graduate and a faculty there – defeated Lok Janshakti Party’s Azheto Zhimomi.
Nagaland creates history by electing two women candidates for the first time… S Kruse and Hekani Jakhalu. Both candidates are from ruling NDPP. Salhoutuonuo Kruse won from nWestern Angami AC and Hekani Jakhalu from Dimapur-III. pic.twitter.com/eTrecKKkPm
— Utpal Parashar (@utpal_parashar) March 2, 2023
Jakhalu, a US-educated lawyer turned social entrepreneur and founder of YouthNet, has been the recipient of the Nari Shakti Puraskar award from the President of India at Rastrapati Bhavan on International Women’s Day. Speaking about Dimapur III seat, Jakhalu in her manifesto has shared a vision for youth development, women empowerment, minority rights, and model constituency.
“My victory is not mine alone, it belongs to my people who trusted me with their hopes & aspirations. I dedicate this victory to God and pledge to serve my constituents with honesty and integrity,” Hekani Jakhalu wrote on Twitter after her victory.
My victory is not mine alone, it belongs to my people who trusted me with their hopes & aspirations. I dedicate this victory to God and pledge to serve my constituents with honesty and integrity. #UpaiAse #Dimapur3 @NDPPofficial @BJPNagaland @Neiphiu_Rio @abumetha pic.twitter.com/o5MIPOhGg6
— Hekani Jakhalu (@Hekani) March 2, 2023
Kruse, a local hotel owner, contested against Keneizhakho Nakhro, an Independent. Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma and Nagaland chief minister Neiphiu Rio had campaigned for Kruse.
This year, two other women candidates – Kahuli Sema of the BJP and Rosy Thomson of the Congress – also contested the elections. While Sema lost by only 602 votes in Atoizu, Thomson forfeited her security deposit in Tenning.
Nagaland, however, has sent two women to parliament earlier. Rano M Shaiza, back in 1977 was elected to the Lok Sabha. Last year, S Phangnon Konyak was elected as a Rajya Sabha member on a BJP ticket from the state.