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Of political monologues

Democracy is a much misunderstood and misconstrued form of government. The road to democracy is paved with good intentions but the pressure on political parties to win elections pushes them to take shortcuts that even they don’t believe in. One of the worst outcomes of democracy in our country and in the state of Meghalaya is the propensity of political parties to override all other considerations, except winnability while weighing if a candidate merits a ticket. Every party wants to win as many seats as it possible; ethics and morality be damned. So we actually begin our journey to democracy from that premise. We are baffled by the fact that crooks and those serving jail time, like Pappu Yadav of Bihar or closer home Julius Dorphang, dare to contest and even win elections. This is perhaps the reason why Thomas Jefferson, the founding father of the United States of America, terms democracy as the “tyranny of the masses.” This tyranny of an unthinking, irrational, self-serving mass is what drives elections even in Meghalaya. Hence you have constituents who will defend to the hilt their representative merely because he/she serves their vested interests. Yet each time election arrives at our doorstep, we collectively believe and expect that the new government will be less corrupt and that ministers will be more accountable and less prone to nepotism than the previous one. How can that happen when voters elect the same people who have only changed parties?

This is the dilemma that frustrates many young people in today’s Meghalaya. They can see that successive governments have failed to create an environment of growth that will in turn generate employment or the conditions that are conducive to entrepreneurship. They want to see younger, more dynamic representatives who have a larger vision to serve the state and not just the constituency but they feel helpless and frustrated to see the same people in the fray. There is a sense of disempowerment at the prospect of seeing the next government not being too different from previous ones.

And then every political party is now organising rallies as a show of strength. Where is the platform for voters to raise questions? Why should they be subjected to political monologues? It’s time for political aspirants to provide space for dialogue with the voters. Anything short of that reduces the election to a popularity contest which is not the intent and purpose of democracy. 


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