Act I, Act II, Act III, Act IV

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Now that Act I of the election theatrics, in the form of the campaigns, and the right and duty of voting to the 13th Nagaland Legislative Assembly are over, Act II has already begun. The drama will intensify with greater gusto. The next three days, till results are declared on March 3, will see high voltage tension ~ more so for political parties and their candidates ~ after all, elections are basically about the prize of power. This time there are no waves but it is likely that negative voting could sway conventional calculations. It shouldn’t surprise anyone if political parties have already started the business of alignments and re-alignments ~ adjustments and re-adjustments ~ because it is possible for them to forget their election manifestos and campaigns thereof. This, after all, has happened before. Till the time of voting, the equations of the political parties here were quite clear cut but as trends and projections have already emerged after voting, indubitably newer equations will emerge. And in the event no political party gets a sizeable majority, newer alignments and adjustments will emerge ~ after all, there are no permanent friends and enemies in politics, only permanent interests. Needless to say, permanent interests basically connotes the voracity for power ~ and all the privileges and perks that come with it. Let us also remember that somehow our people have a predilection for the winning side ~ so you will remember that for a very long time till about fifteen years ago almost every person was a Congressman/women or supporter, then everyone became an NPF person and/or supporter and in three days’ time we will come to know in which direction the political wind will blow for us to aimlessly flit and fly for the next five years. This could be because our people have not fully understood and appreciated the roles and responsibilities of a strong opposition for an effervescent democracy ~ democracy becomes more energized and strengthened only in the environment of checks and balances. This signifies that in tribal societies like ours, the need to educate our people on the essence and ethos of representative democracy cannot be over-emphasized. But such awareness creation and education also need to be in tandem with our traditional and cultural essences and ethos because tribal societies are extremely well structured and organized which could be co-opted and woven into representative democracy. While we bemoan the negative roles village councils play during elections, with sincere efforts, they could actually be transformed into one of the strongest forces of energizing and strengthening representative democracy based on the principle of one-person-one-vote. After all, village councils are the elementary fountainhead of power and governance in our society, wielding the kind of influence no elected government can dream to appropriate for themselves, much less assume. The very fact that no political party or candidate can afford to ignore village councils, speaks volumes about the reach of these traditional institutions safeguarded by Article 371 (A). Meanwhile, it is also imperative that our traditional village councils must not be mistaken for our proliferating NGOs and civil societies. The deafening silence of our NGOs and civil societies after their demand for “solution, not election” or “solution before election” invalidates their claim to be the voice of the people and indicates the limitations of their influence and reach over the people. Yes, these next three days will see more politicking for government formation than was seen in the run-up to the elections. Then Act III, Scene 1 will begin with whoever forms the government seeking to cement its strength in the Assembly during which elected representatives will be most sought after ~ and if we go by past experience, those who can pay the most will emerge as winner. In Act III, Scene II, horse-trading will continue by those whose ambitions the electorate disregarded, rendering an unstable government. Act IV, the final Act, will see the people going back to square one. And all of us ~ political parties, politicians and the people ~ will once again live unhappily ever after. This, of course, is a dismal scenario but it has happened before. Still, because hope springs eternal in the human heart, with any luck, this time our elected members will be the change they have been proselytizing during their election campaigns.