Recently the Chief Electoral Officer, Nagaland has officially warned against proxy voting. He said detection of such malpractice would render the votes in that polling station null and void, and action would be initiated against defaulters as well as polling officials. Strong words, but much needed, one might say. And considering the fire power and resources made available to the election machinery including CCTVs, ensuring electoral malpractices are prevented is a given. After all the government is duty bound to conduct a ‘free and fair’ election process so that people can vote without ‘fear or favor’ to install a just and transparent government ‘of’ the people.
Questions – does the government intend to back up their words with action? Will it genuinely gun after proxy voters, or turn the other way? Are these notifications simply for public consumption to show their good intentions? And somehow scrape through the polling and declare the elections peaceful, free and fair? So in a sense do we have here official rhetoric to compete with the run of the mill political rhetoric proffered by politicians and parties? Going by today’s ground reality it is anything but peaceful. Free and fair? Some polling stations reported in excess of cent percent votes cast in the last assembly elections! We will have to wait and see if this time around it is more free and fair.
In a democratic election we cannot escape the fact that who or what elects a candidate determines who or what he or she will serve. So how can candidates serve the people when they have to sell whatever they own and dole out crores to get elected? On the other hand, can an honest candidate expect to win an election without enticing voters with whatever?
The voter now comes into the picture. NBCC’s clarion call for Clean Elections is laudable and full marks for the effort. But elections are neither clean nor dirty – politics is meant to be a noble profession. ‘We’ are dirty, as if we didn’t know it already. ‘Clean People’ would have been a better slogan! Good thing is we all agree there is a problem. Bad thing is we are treating the symptoms, not the disease. Just like prohibition cannot turn people into teetotalers, nor will appealing and praying keep people from offering/accepting/demanding inducements in exchange for votes. And candidates will continue to outdo each other in doing whatever it takes to win. We have to get to the heart of the matter – the heart. And Transformation of the local church (which means assembly of believers, and not the church building, Deacon Board, or NBCC) from cultural Christians to Christ followers.
While no religion has a monopoly on good behavior, Christians are generally expected to live exemplary lives for the sole reason that we are set apart as followers of Christ. Still stuck on religion? – Try moving on to relationship with God. How about darkness? – The light beckons. And death? – Choose life.
Scripture talks about un-Christian living this way – “Their god is their own appetite, they glory in their shame, and this world is the limit of their horizon” (Phil. 3:19). What then is the sum of Christianity? We were never meant to live in the lowly place we are in right now, with no vision of our Creator. Seeing Jesus, and imitating him, that is the sum of Christianity (Max Lucado).
And if we imitate Christ, then we will aspire to minister, not to be a Minister; to empower, not to be powerful; to enrich, not to be rich; to earn money, not to make money; and use the money we earn to glorify god, and not hit the bottle; …. We get the point, don’t we? And isn’t it time we realize that we don’t go to church, we are the church; and that god is our source for everything, not our job, profession or business? Thank god for Christ, our true role model.
And thank god there is still hope for Nagas to rise above the royal mess we are in today. And who knows in the not too distant future the CEO and his boys can go for a hike come election time!
Let us say Amen to that.
Arep Changkiri, Fellowship Colony, Dimapur
* Disclaimer. The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by the various authors and participants on this page do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of the Nagaland Page.