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Are we heading toward a political monopoly?

By Aristotle Lyngdoh

                The recently concluded MDC elections to the two District Councils have brought to the fore many issues and questions as to where we are headed as a society. First and foremost as is evident from the results the objective for holding this election was meaningless and without substance. In the first place, why did the state government want to hold District Council elections when Bills passed by the elected members of the Councils are subjected to bureaucratic scrutiny at the state’s secretariat? Is this the way how the legitimate process of legislation in a democracy should work? A Bill is an outcome of legislation of a legitimate legislative body. Therefore, the question of scrutiny or interpretation can only be done by the judiciary after it has become a law provided if there is repugnancy. Otherwise, what is the scope of the judiciary then? This is what that I don’t understand about the politics of differentiation that is prevailing in our state. Those in positions of advantage will do whatever possible to monopolize the opportunity to curtail the efforts of others.

The purpose of every election as commonly understood is to elect a governing body which is stable and for a fixed tenure. The stability of governance is in fact beneficial for the people governed by it. But as we have witnessed, the people/electorate have not precisely voted with that collective understanding of giving a clear mandate to any party. In others words, it is a fractured mandate and this is not only for MDC elections but for State Legislature as well. Why is this happening only here and when will our people understand that this is not good for the welfare of the state and the people therein? But what we have seen is just the opposite. People voted for the individual and this individual later on will devise ways and means to create a monopoly of control in the constituency in order to retain his hold. This has already happened as we have seen in Jaintia Hill where voters are being chased out from the queue in a polling booth just because they are not supporters of the candidate sponsored by the MLA. There is a kind of forced monopoly that is taking place in the state. This is just the beginning of a monopolistic politics and democracy is very much under threat even if we people do not realize this now.

Another aspect is that the government’s top priority too is for the welfare and well being of the party members in the coalition. Looking at the swift action taken by the government to complete the process of notification of EC members on the same day is nothing but the politics of monopolizing  the situation in the interest of the coalition partners. But for those who dare to critique those in position of power, even if they are right in the context of the larger interests will be doomed to suffer adversely to the extent of being wiped out permanently. Such is the type of environment that is prevailing where the basic tenet of democracy to honour and respect a democratic expression is totally absent from the code of our politicians. It is a sad state of affairs when unknowingly we are approaching and adopting a system of governance by monopoly.

On the other hand, there are individuals who advocate and favour the idea of winding up the District Councils which to me is a weird idea. The reason that compelled them to favour such idea is simply because they found themselves incompatible to adjust and fit in the system due to their personal limitations. In the backdrop where many sections of community in the country are demanding and getting certain privileges as protection of their minority status, these people who advocate dissolution of Sixth Schedule have perhaps forgotten the fact that our cultures and our traditional institutions like the Hima, the Raid, land, etc. which are our only identity left as a tribe and community can only be regulated in a modern system of governance by an institution like the Autonomous District Councils. Provided, that we the people too, understand the need to elect representatives to these autonomous bodies who are intellectually mature and well versed with the culture and tradition of the society. However this is not the case today. In fact the purpose of this election is mainly to maintain the interest of the party in relationship with the public and also to partially satisfy and stabilize the unfulfilled desires of the party functionaries. In this manner, those in power can monopolize the political situation for their future benefit.

As far as the recently concluded MDC election is concerned, nowhere would we find such thinking among the general public and the elected members. The slogan ‘ieid ri or Jaidbynriew’ is an issue without substance. The entire process is mainly a game of exercising control and show of strength among political components. In my observation, I see every election as a commercial transaction of political parties both big and small. How political parties are making money is amazing. Initially, fund flows to the party in the form of donations but the one who gives the highest donation is also the highest bidder for the party ticket. If we assume that election is an industry and political party as an enterprise or business entity, then party ticket is like a trade license that traders are willing to pay at any cost. These things are very much in discussion today so we do not need to elaborate further.

                        Time and again we have said that people here are voting for the individual not for the party. There may be a party lover here and there but that seems to have disappeared today. No matter who that individual is, he should be financially influential and vociferous. The greatest drawback in our democracy is when people favour an individual consecutively. Such an opportunity is hazardous, even an angel can become a devil and that is why many crore-pati politicians have been created by the people because of our foolish simplicity or may be due to ignorance about democratic responsibilities. This is another factor that keeps many parties busy and sustainable thereby making their business a thriving prospect. How the electorate of Shillong North L.A. Constituency elected a candidate, who is financially non- influential, less educated and whose party is not very popular is something that I fail to understand or perhaps there may be some external hidden factors in such a situation.

In a natural climate of monopoly, the quality of products acquired due to technological achievement will dominate the market. Or a group of enterprises can also come together and determine the price of a commodity. But to create such an opportunity, there is a huge cost which has to be incurred. But in the political monopoly things are different. There is a cost no doubt to acquire a coalition in order to come to a majority but the policy outcome or legislation of that coalition will be very poor and low since the interest of all components in the coalition has to be taken care. In such a situation, the people of the state will stand to be the major losers.

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