By Aristotle Lyngdoh
Time and again it has been said that people in Meghalaya always vote for personalities and not for any political party. The vote bank politics here in our state is individual based and not ideology based and the candidate’s stance becomes the voters’ ideology. This is true in every election process in the state especially in the past few decades. A candidate who can utilize his or her resources and influence properly will surely have a good chance to win elections even if he/she is illiterate. This is the reason that most candidates retain their votes irrespective of any situation and have secured a victory for themselves even if they contested from any symbol. Changes may occur here and there and that is purely because of extra maneuvering efforts and tactics deployed by the contesting candidates which are beyond administrative surveillance.
Thus it has become one of the factors that inspires and instigates candidates and politicians to switch allegiance frequently. But without proper justification we have concluded that people have given a fractured mandate. We have never asked why the verdict has to be in this fractured form? In other states, people at the grassroots have prior knowledge about who would come to power in the next election and most of the exit pollsters have predicted the results through sample surveys collected from the opinions of the general public. But here it is difficult to estimate and guess and people are in the dark as to who would secure a majority prior to the election result.
One thing that we should also be clear in our minds about is that the electorate here in Meghalaya, and even in the urban pockets are still ignorant about collective mandate and collective governance. They think that their candidate can do everything singlehandedly if elected as their MLA. This may include any illegal and unethical action as happened with the education scam. Gone are the days where people would apply their sense of reasoning and weigh every word cautiously. Their level of reasoning now has gone down drastically. And this is clearly seen from every rally and jamboree during the election campaign. Nobody thinks and talks about governance or the type of government we should elect during the entire election campaign except that their candidate is the best person ever. In this case they are not different from bettors in a bull or cock- fight that are always proud of their animal.
Every general election to the state legislature is an extravagant festival season without any expenditure from the voter’s pocket. The candidates themselves are not sure about their own victory and even those who are over-confident have been proven wrong. And this is also another reason why parties are afraid to come to any meaningful and concrete alliance before the election. Therefore, all the constituents of this alliance should agree that this is not what they planned or expected. It has come to them like a game of chances and finally we credit such situation to fate or to our luck.
This election outcome in the state has also shattered and contradicted the expectations of many. The slogan for change or transformation has merely become an illusion without any substance. It is obvious now as in the past that the motto and sole objective of this Government will be to maintain and cement the alliance of the coalition. The present verdict has also pointed to the absence of a distinguished leader who can come up with a convincing majority by taking all sections of the society into confidence with overwhelming support. Yet another aspect of this verdict in the state is also the emergence of younger personalities who are estranged from and alien to public service and public relations but were pushed to the arena just to endorse the move of their family mentors. Some of them are pushed into the boat but the boatman himself is missing and the only option for them as of now is to become flexible and adjustable.Therefore, in such a situation elected members have to manage and maintain a congenial atmosphere and to keep themselves under some bond of friendship just to regain stamina from the exhausted battle.
People should now clearly understand that the rise of business families in the political domain is mostly compelled by the thrust of financial capitalization and enhancement and not by the motivation of any valuable philosophical or ideological principles. Otherwise what will they do in politics and people’s governance? Since Meghalaya lacks large scale business opportunities in the industrial and corporate sector, the only option for these business magnates is to extract from the state’s coffers or else what do we expect from them? Another important factor to keep in mind is that any coalition supported either by the Congress or the NPP and its allies has to ensure a stable government in the state. Otherwise, President’s Rule or re-polling is indispensable. And that is within the realm of possibility since there are so many factions too with different ideologies and ambitions coupled with the defeat of most of their prominent leaders. It is here that governance in the state in the following days will be under heavy turbulence. Legislation will be severely affected and the great loss will be that of the citizens of the state. And if this situation is a reality then I can conclude that we the people have created our own problems.
The Speaker’s election is another indicator on the nature and strength of this alliance. When NPP and Congress have equal chances to manipulate the process, it is up to them how play and keep their unfriendly partners intact. But in the absence of a meaningful ideology among the elected members themselves it is difficult to ensure any sustainability. The fact is that most of the elected members too are self-centered and whose personal agenda are pre-eminent and more important than the collective betterment of the general public.
But have we ever thought that the present state of affairs in the state is being orchestrated by the rural and ill-informed voters? In a state where more than 70% of the electorate are living in the rural sector devoid of any intellectual capacity and willingness to ponder and reason on the complexities of the present day governance and its implication, their mood and mind can be simply swayed by various influential factors especially money. But I am afraid that this culture has also now entered into the urban segments.
Those who have won the election have celebrated their victory but as citizens we have lost. The reason is because healthy and constructive debates were missing from the entire election process. People have a peripheral knowledge and information about real issues of development and progress. And this is the reason why there are still people who are afraid about the Adhaar number. For how long will this situation prevail? Right thinking people need to come together and address this problem though various means. Then only the ray of hope for a brighter state will appear. The need of the hour is to encourage a healthy debate right from village level to region and gradually to the constituency level. In this way without discriminating anyone, we can promote and project good and refined leaders and legislators.