In the normal scheme of things, electing a representative to the Lok Sabha from Nagaland is a very dull exercise of democracy mainly because we have only one seat in the lower House of Parliament and the candidate fielded by the ruling party and its allies normally wins. Besides, Delhi has always been much too far from us and somehow we feel that what happens in Delhi is quite irrelevant for us and does not, and cannot, touch us in any direct ways. But we fail to realize that what happens in Delhi and what Delhi decides has great relevance to and impacts us ~ quite often irreversibly. Our failure to realize and acknowledge this has cost us dearly. Our failure to notice how over the decades Delhi’s decisions on several aspects ~ political, economic, social, cultural, personal freedoms, liberty, etc., ~ have not only impacted on our lives but also changed us, sometimes quite unrecognizably. The very language, tone and tenor of our election campaigns over the past couple of decades are prime examples. We have been so intent on our ethnicity and identity that we failed to see how deeply Delhi’s decisions can, and have, “re-arranged” our perspectives of ethnicity and identity. But then this is a natural corollary of the State of Nagaland being the 16th State of the Indian Union. And because we failed to engage in and negotiate the changing characteristics and trajectories of our existence as a part of the Indian Union, we remain in the periphery of the nation’s psyche. But the problem is that even if the epi-centre of earthquakes may be far away, peripheries also feel the tremors. There was no history of lynching for sale and transportation of cows and for consuming beef in Assam but several such instances have been reported in the past few years. How long would it take for the same to happen in Nagaland and any other Northeastern state? Nagaland didn’t have the problem of migration during Partition in 1947 and later in 1971 but how long did it take for this problem to turn into a threat in Nagaland? If Articles 370 and 35A, applicable in Jammu and Kashmir, is perceived as an impediment to the integrity of the Indian Union, how long would it take for the same opinion to be shared regarding Article 371 (A) and similar Articles applicable to various Northeastern States? The Northeast also wasn’t spared of demonetization and Aadhaar, etc., either. The point is whatever Delhi decides impacts on us and ushers in changes we are at a loss to deal with. And this because we believe that nothing Delhi does and decides could and would impact and change us ~ a sad commentary on our blinkeredness. Because every action has a reaction, every day is a day of reckoning. Today, as we vote for the 17th Lok Sabha, we must realize that we must engage in the national debate for the essence and ethos clearly enunciated in the Indian Constitution. While every voter must decide who she will vote for, it is also imperative to realize that her vote will make a huge difference to the quality of her life and that of the nation. Ultimately, the quality of an individual’ life determines that of the nation’s and vice versa therefore it is imperative that we must vote today with no fear or favour. A vote is also the sole property of the voter but it is a gift of democracy hence it must not be sold and squandered. Selling and squandering vote amounts to selling and squandering one’s future and that of our progenies ~ and in the event, we forfeit all rights to talk about rights. Yes, sending the right representative is crucial for us because it is only through him we can, and will, engage in what happens in Delhi and what Delhi decides. It is only through our representative at Delhi we register our existence and presence as a part of the country. The importance of electing the right candidate cannot be over-emphasized, especially now when the country stands at the crossroads of obscurantism and democracy, because for far too long we remained light years away from decisions made for our lives and future. And this we cannot afford to do any more. And so, who is the right candidate? Let your conscience guide you.