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God has truly blessed Meghalaya

By Dr. Lakhan Kma

Let me start by saying ‘congrats’ to winners and ‘sorry’ to losers in the just concluded Assembly Election 2018, although I regret the loss of some of the good candidates. However, when you put things in perspective one has to admit that being a Member of Legislative Assembly (MLA) is not a government job and hence renewal is required every five years through the examination of our democratic system where sitting and potential legislators have to qualify for it. The beauty of this examination is that there are many ways of winning or losing it. E.g. a smart and dynamic young man with limited resources can defeat a multi-millionaire and vice-versa; or a person will all the resources can lose against an equally resourceful opponent. In this examination, some can switch from a winning party and lose and vice-versa. There are also some who are transformed from party-less Independent winners to losers after affiliating to a popular party. This test also includes those who work very hard and lose and vice-versa; or those who really work very hard and win.

There are also those candidates who passed this very examination by accepting deserters from the rival camp or failed by not accepting the deserters out of overconfidence. In this examination, there are also those who are blamed to have used money or muscle power or both or none and have either won or lost. Indeed in this election, rumours flew thick and fast that money changed hands in many constituencies similar to earlier elections. However, in absence of any proof, I would rest my case, lest the winners blame me for spoiling their parties and the losers blame me for rubbing salts in their wounds. In all these frenzies of multiple formulae of winning or losing the election, the smartest examinees appear to be those who keep changing the colour of their clothes every five years and yet keep passing the examination. Anyway, whether it is the happiness of success or the sadness of failure, it will take time to sink in, perhaps, till the next election.

The best part of this election has been the much-needed change for good. Perhaps, I can take the liberty of claiming to represent all those who were against the political ‘status quo’ and yearned for change for years. Undoubtedly, we all voted to break the ‘status quo’ without taking even a single cup of red tea from any candidate. Now the onus lies with these legislators to really come out with a concrete road map of development. With so many MLAs below 50 years and 31 new faces, the Assembly is definitely going to be fresh and youthful. It is indeed a perfect blend of experience and youthfulness. Therefore, it’s a golden opportunity to infuse energy into our polity and shun the business-as-usual attitude. With a young and apparently dynamic person as Chief Minister, things are looking good for Meghalayans under Meghalaya Democratic Alliance (MDA) rule. We are all looking forward to a lot of out-of-box thoughts and new ideas from the youthful government amalgamated with experience that should take the State of Meghalaya or at least put the State on the tract of overall development. The MDA government would have to come out with its own model of development without trying to beat the same track of emulating other models which has resulted in snail-paced development for decades. Our model has to be based on our strengths, weaknesses, ground realities and feasibilities which are unique in Meghalaya. While the brand new MDA government has a lot to cheer for, the challenges are equally daunting in nature. Once the honeymoon period is over, obviously economy, infrastructure, health, education, employment etc. have to be key areas of immediate attention. Keeping the fiscal health of Meghalaya in mind, it is equally important to ensure proper implementation of Central Schemes to ensure that it reaches the last person in the queue to complement or supplement the developmental pace of the State government.

Another challenge of the MDA government would be the border disputes between Meghalaya and Assam. In the past several decades, subsequent Congress governments in Meghalaya, Assam and the Centre have failed to resolve the border disputes between the two States creating hardships to border residents. With the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) at the helm of affair in the two neighbouring States and the Centre, it would be important and interesting to see the progress on this front. Perhaps, pragmatic and practical approach by all involved parties would be able to solve the dispute. Needless to mention that conflicts and confrontations on inter-State borders does not bring any good to either side and drains out a lot of precious resources; after all, we are in the same country.

In is quite apparent that the MDA government is glued together by the BJP and frankly there cannot be a better political dispensation than the present coalition at this point. Will this glue of BJP withstand the volatility of a coalition government in the State? Only time will tell! Obviously for now, the MDA enjoys the goodwill of the people of the State and should be able to capitalize on it to the fullest, while the process of strengthening and refinement of the coalition continues with time. Indeed, being an integral part of MDA, it is a challenge for the BJP to prove itself as an agent capable of bringing visible change by working with its coalition partners. With 21 out of 29 States ruled by BJP and its alliance, I am not sure if any national party ever had this kind of overwhelming State-Central control. It is a perfect opportunity and ideally suited for implementation of developmental agenda with visible results on the ground which BJP should not lose.

While the ‘acche din’ is yet to be seen at the national level, perhaps it can start from Meghalaya. Some wise people have said that magic can happen in places where it is least expected.

Election is over, people have spoken and government has been formed, so folks, let’s get down to business of running the State effectively. All partners, parties or legislators have to remember that it is not anyone’s ‘Intellectual Property Right’ over the concept or phrase of ‘protecting the Jaitbynriew’ or ‘Community’. If our politicians discharge their duties as enshrined in our Constitution and conduct themselves with the utmost propriety, the ‘Jaitbynriew’ will take care of itself. Recent election results of Meghalaya has only reiterated that in today’s time, while the public does have a lot of patience, they are not interested in tall claims and nor will they tolerate a tenure full of empty rhetoric and no substance.

We do wish that the MDA with the inbuilt support of BJP at the Centre, particularly with regards to flow of funds and guidance to the State, will be able to execute the developmental agenda and no other hidden agenda in Meghalaya? If it fails, it will be a missed opportunity that perhaps will never come back.

If these five years of MDA does not result in visible signs of development for Meghalayans, we should finally be ready to take the obnoxious medal of a failed State. We can only wish that this coalition would be sensible and sensitive enough to fulfil its mandate and last its full term and beyond. Probably, a Common Minimum Programme, accepted to all parties, will strengthen the coalition in order to avoid day-to-day insecurities and ideological threats expressed by coalition partners which are never healthy for any coalition. Once these things are settled, legislators can focus on their jobs for the next five years rather than worry about petty things or their positions as partners.

In conclusion, let me state that God has truly blessed Meghalaya this time and based on our deeds, will perhaps continue to bless us all as Meghalayans in times to come.

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