By Peter A Dohkrut
The apotheoses of Indian politicians may not be openly expressed, but its implied connotation is widely comprehended by intellectuals and perceptive individuals. The question that lingers in my mind is whether the people of Meghalaya or of this country have elevated the politicians to the status of gods or whether the politicians consider themselves as gods. We do have a disputed answer in this regard. Politicians will disagree with this but the ground reality remains that with the exception of a few, when the politicians are in power they automatically become the masters of the masses and forget that they are elected to the chair to serve and not to rule according to their whimsical ideologies.
Following the article dated December 1, 2017 by Patricia Mukhim in this daily I am further inspired to express my political concern with regards to elections and the voters under the influence of the political gods. Perhaps, the said article had rightly stated that “Every thinking voter in Meghalaya wants to see CHANGE in 2018,” but these thinking voters are only 10% to 20% in our state or in this country therefore change seems next to impossible. In fact, there are only a handful of genuine candidates who take their role of public servant seriously and sincerely and not for their personal development. Politicians in our state act not only as managers but as financial secretaries who spend most of their energies on accounts; on how to make bill books etc; busy like hell calculating how to get maximum net profit from the little they do. They have no time to identify the plight of the masses and even to properly address the socio-economic problems faced by the masses. However, we are greatly blessed by the presence of the Judiciary which spares no political gods or any of their agents whosoever and whatsoever, when it comes to public interest.
The five year gods (lei san snem) have started their campaign now with many vain promises that if people re-elect them to power in the coming election they will bring new life to their voters and transform their constituencies into paradise. Even some of the fresh candidates follow the same strategies in their campaign and read out the list of actions they will take and schemes they will implement if they are elected, almost as if manna from heaven is assured should they be elected. They are also playing with the emotions of the masses by entering each household like Santa Claus promising big gifts in return for their votes. It is also not surprising that some of these experienced political gods have not even started campaigning because they are waiting for the right hour and right moment to shower their blessings of mercy on the voters in the form of gifts, grants and tips – let me be bold here – “the distribution of money.”
The truth remains that we cannot consciously exercise our voting freedom in the elections because we are bought either with money or deceitful promises, and it is this lack of consciousness that controls the masses. The political gods are very smart indeed. They buy some voters with a cup of tea; others with a packet of cigarettes; some with a cheap bottle of liquor and some with notes – Rs 500, 1000, 10000 according to the situation or number of votes guaranteed, respectively. Many presume that demonetization would be a catastrophe for non- BJP candidates, but if we believe this then we are no better than educated fools. Now many roads and footpaths, everywhere, are repaired not for their own sake but as one of the political strategies to deceive the innocent and the ignorant who form their vote banks.
Also, let me get real with some practical instances. In the Shella constituency which is served by the Hon’ble MLA, Dr Donkupar Roy, the road from Sohra to Sohbar, Mawlong, Tharia etc. is so horrible that pregnant ladies who travel on those roads face a grave risk of miscarriage/abortion and for the sick it would be a near death experience. And when the voters ask that the roads be repaired the only answer of assurance is “Yes, it will be done.” But till date nothing has happened and even through the next election is approaching, the road continues to be in disrepair. Frankly speaking the concerned MLA need not be told to repair the said road. It is his duty and responsibility to do the job. I expect Dr Donkupar Roy to read this article with the receptivity that a public servant should and show courtesy to the people of his constituency who supported him for more than two decades, by repairing the road at least before the end of his present term or before the next election.
In another instance I happened to witness the supporters of the MDC PT Sawkmie while they were approaching the Mawlai voters to solicit votes for the coming election. One of the supporters rhetorically praised the MDC beyond the skies and also reminded the group of voters of his past popularity in Mawlai. To my astonishment one educated old man, suddenly, cried out that he does not wonder about such acclaimed popularity because of the trade mark ‘PT Sawkmie’ which he sees emblazoned everywhere, even in cups and saucers and spoon, when this MDC was once upon a time an MLA. The crux of the matter remains that the large number of voters are still being fooled by the political gods and blinded by their hypocritical sympathy with vain promises which they themselves are not certain if they can deliver.
Some days ago I had a conversation with (Retd) Prof. Philomath Passah who had contested the Assembly Elections twice before but never made it, regarding to the prevalent political scenario in Meghalaya. What I could gather from the conversation is that money still plays an important part in every election in our State. It does not matter whether you are a professor or scientist but money has its own role. And also, when we look at the Dhar brothers, the crore- patis, we can assume how effectively they can address the issues of the people or debate in the Assembly, but that does not matter for the masses because wealth speaks louder. The Dhar brothers are very confident of winning the next election because they know they can meet all the expectations of the innocent, the ignorant and self- interested individuals even at the eleventh hour of the voting day. They are gods for some and for others a walking, living ATM.
On examining the political scenario in our country especially the states including Meghalaya, our democracy is a living replica of a beautiful novel by George Orwell, “Animal Farm”. The majority refuses to vote for the qualified, honest and reputed individuals with a record of public service, to be their leader. They prefer instead a moneyed person or witty individual but not a wise individual with integrity. Therefore, change seems next to impossible with the present government and the next, especially when there is only a change in the blankets and their colours while the people inside those blankets remain unchanged.
After all, only 10 to 20 percent of the voting populations have attained enlightenment to recognize the evil snare of the so called political gods. What can the minority do against the will of the majority? However we cannot stop inspiring someone to strive towards perfection. There is always hope for a change. One of the prominent ancient philosophers by the name Hilaclitus proposed a theory that nothing is permanent and everything is changeable. We pray that one day will see change in the politics of Meghalaya. Till then we cannot give up hope!