Clean Election turns into Clean Pocket; Churches hopeful CE will bear fruit in future

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Kohima, February 26: Having a clean election, specially without the use of money power, seems to be a distant dream for Nagaland as most of the candidates and political parties in the State are of the view that it should be ‘Clean Pockets’ instead of ‘Clean Election’.
Nagaland is going to polls tomorrow to elect the new team for the 60-member House.
It was the Nagaland Baptist Church Council (NBCC), an apex body of churches, which had initiated ‘Clean Election’ ahead of the 2008 State Assembly elections and has been continuing the process by holding Clean Election Campaign throughout the State.
Affiliated tribes Church Association under NBCC also initiated clean election campaign propagating curtailment of accepting inducing substances, especially money for their votes from political parties and candidates in fray during the State elections.
Notably, an 18-Point Agreement was arrived at between the Church and political parties on Clean Election on June 22, 2017, wherein couple of the main points read – “Shall not buy votes with money”, “Shall not insist or force Clan, Khel, Village, and family to declare support for a particular candidate”, “Shall not distribute party money or provide party-based development work during election time”, “Shall not distribute alcohol, drugs, or other intoxicants to voters” etc.
Another worth mentioning success on Clean Election during year was the affirmation between the Naga legislators and the NBCC, wherein legislators and churches had agreed to lead and take the responsibility of a fair and honest electoral practice.
The affirmation was made as part of a colloquium on Clean Election organised by NBCC for the churches and legislators of the State on November 29, 2017.
“The legislators, churches and citizens affirm that all of us have an investment in the future of the state of Nagaland and that our shared future must flourish without any obstacles,” read the joint statement signed on the day by Nagaland Chief Minister TR Zeliang for the legislators and NBCC secretary general Rev Zelhou Keyho and Nagaland Joint Christian Forum vice president Rev Dr N Paphino for the churches.
Nevertheless, going by the process of electioneering for the February 27 polls, an intending candidate (name withheld) said, “Electorates have been after me asking for help, specially monetary like house-flies since the day election was announced”.
More so, the candidate said, Nagaland elections being held around this month of the year is in a way exasperating as this is the time for academic entrance and voters come forward asking money for children’s admission while many want money for their personal gain. And therefore, the candidate says, ‘Clean election’ is all about ‘Clean Pocket’ of candidates.
An official of major political party also talked on similar lines saying “Clean election is far away but presently it is all about emptying the pockets of candidates, which can be rightly termed “Clean pocket”.
“They (electorates) want to take money… but it has become a way of doing politics from long time back,” said a first timer contesting in a rural constituency.
“I do support clean election but anybody trying to follow it has rare chances of win,” he said, adding, “It will be all about setting an example but loss the election”.
Nonetheless, he expressed happiness that the churches have initiated clean election move while also revealing that during his campaigning he has come across electorates who does not accept the money offered but they also do not want to openly declare whom they would vote for.
“Clean election is a good initiative,” he said.
Other than usage of money to lure the electorates, the clashes between supporters of rival candidates and political parties while one death, cases of kidnapping, physical thrashing of individuals, including women and also damage of properties have been reported especially in Mokokchung and Wokha districts.
It may be recalled that despite the initiation of Clean Election, during the 2008 Elections an approximate amount of Rs 569. 96 crores was spent to buy votes and to muscle man power.
However, it increased to a staggering amount of Rs. 937.82 crores in the February 23, 2013 elections.
These figures were provided by YouthNet, an organisation working for youth empowerment in the State and also Nagaland Chapter of Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) and National Election Watch.
ARD Nagaland Coordinator, Hekani Jakhalu has stated that it would also bring out the expenditure of 195 candidates after the February 27 polls.
Meanwhile, Nagaland Joint Christian Forum (NJCF) vice president Rev Neikedozo Paphino said that it is a fact that the “Clean Election campaign has not been fully satisfactory”.
Nonetheless, expressing that ‘something is better than nothing’, he said the movement has been gaining momentum with the passage of every election and we are hope that it will bear fruit in the days to come. (Page News Service)