Misused & missed opportunity

On November 3, bye-elections to 14-Southern Angami-I and 60-Pungro-Kiphire Assembly constituencies were held, which were vacant after the demise of the sitting MLAs of the NDPP and Opposition NPF respectively in December 2019. Constitutionally, these bye-elections should have been held within six months ~ by June 2020 ~ however due to the COVID-19 pandemic they were delayed beyond 6 months. In other states where elections and bye-elections were also held simultaneously there have been opinions that against the backdrop of the Coronavirus pandemic ~ seeing that India continues to be the second worst affected country in the world ~ these elections could have been postponed for some more time. However, in Nagaland such opinions were not heard ~ not surprising because we love elections perhaps just a little less than money. This too is difficult to say because for us, elections and money are more or less synonymous. So, if a few lakhs were intercepted and couldn’t reach the intended pockets, can’t blame political parties, can we? Because, if not at any other time, at least just before elections, they do endeavour to deliver, don’t they? But these few lakhs intercepted are just peanuts in the greater scheme of our electoral politics ~ we don’t know how much more wasn’t intercepted. And therein lies the tale of almost all our elections, especially since the past two decades and some. Another sad tale of our elections is the increasingly abysmal quality of campaigning in the state ~ not that it is much better in other states. And this should wake us up to the quality of political parties and political personalities across the country. But let us focus on Nagaland today. No doubt, all political parties have their manifestoes but very noticeably in the recently-held bye-elections to aforesaid Assembly constituencies, political parties’ manifestoes didn’t seem to be prioritized. The main focus of the ruling parties in Nagaland was to persuade the electorate to vote for the “ruling” parties ~ ostensibly to facilitate “more development”. But as we know, “development” in Nagaland is just another euphemism for Government jobs, Government contracts and supply orders, postings to places of personal preferences and generally self-enrichment in various and numerous ways. In plainspeak, “development” in Nagaland is also just another euphemism for “the winner takes it all” ~ and how! As for the Opposition parties, they basically focused on the failures of the ruling parties that form the Government, which is perfectly constitutional but they most unfortunately failed to utilize the period of campaigning to educate the electorate on the essence and ethos of periodic elections underlined in the Constitution and why each voter must shoulder her moral obligations of writing and re-writing the reality and destiny of the people and the state. Increasingly, a distance has been consciously and deliberately created between the people and Constitution of the country ~ the Opposition could have utilized these bye-elections to bridge this distance to bring voters face-to-face with their constitutional responsibilities and set the tone for the next Assembly and Parliamentary elections. In brief, the Opposition parties could have enabled and empowered our people to seriously ponder on why we vote in the first place and how crucial each vote is to determine our present and future. When raw power is at stake, all this sounds idealistic and utopian, doesn’t it? But then, at the centre of human life lies idealism and utopia, no? And, raw power lies with the people, no? So, that raw power must be restored to the people. Otherwise, as we have seen, political parties and personalities appropriate the people’s power ~ consequently render the people powerless and enslave them to poverty and disempowerment in every sphere of life. We don’t know the people’s reaction and response to the campaigns of the various political parties and personalities in the run-up to the November 3 bye-elections in Nagaland. Our people do not speak truth to power nor do we question those in power. It is also our local media’s failure that we focus more on political parties’ “Public Relations” statements than on what the voters actually think and feel. Seeing what is happening across the country and in Nagaland, never has it become more crucial than now for political parties, the Fourth Estate and the people to re-visit the Constitution. They will always be rotten apples in the basket but should they be allowed to bring down the rest to their state of rottenness?