Let’s celebrate festival of democracy responsibly

Indeed, the 17th Lok Sabha election is round the corner and it would be celebrated with gusto all over the country. Over the years, periodic elections have assumed the character of a grand extended festival in the world’s largest democracy. When it comes to festival or festivals, Manipur always occupies the prime position and the festival of democracy or election is no exception. There would be grand feasts, musical concerts and all kinds of merriment at almost every locality and they would be sponsored indirectly by political parties or candidates. In spite of declaring an expenditure ceiling, the Election Commission has not been able to limit the actual process of spending as it is unaware of the cultural situation of Manipur. For example, lunch and dinner parties hosted by contesting candidates or rival parties continue to be a regular phenomenon in every election. These kinds of spending are beyond the purview of ECI. No doubt, elections are a grand sponsored festival in the State. At the same time, we only expose our political immaturity by celebrating the periodic elections as sponsored festivals. Coercion, intimidation and direct purchase of votes continue to be the primary deciding factors for any election in the State. In most of the elections held in Manipur, manifesto of a political party, which is supposed to be the most vital aspects, is given least importance. No one take it as seriously as it deserves. Debate over the content of it and review of the previous manifesto which can go a long way in exposing the performance or non-performance of a ruling party are conspicuous by its absence in our society. The end product is the emergence of a heap of lies and lip service as governing political technology on the part of ruling political elites. This technology rests on the foundation of Machiavellian analysis of human nature and character of public as fools, emotional, lacking power of perception and understanding, forgetful in nature etc. Most political parties surgically execute this theory.
Having said this, we cannot put the entire blame on citizens or voters alone. Standard and quality of election have become too low to expect any substantive result out of it. Election today is no longer a contesting site for those enduring values for which people live and die. It has, without any contest, turned into an arena for exposition and application of Machiavellian tactics and methods with an undivided focused on capturing power by any means. In the society of Manipur today, intellectuals, scholars, genuine social workers are off the arena of election, only contractors turned social workers, and bureaucrats (not many) turned politicians have flooded the arena. One reason for such trend is the absence of real politics in the electoral process and M (money, muscle and manpower) factor. But still then, no one can escape from its effects. It is the very spring from which the source and legitimacy of ruling over people flow. We must not forget that casting vote is giving authority to rule over us for five years. But people habitually cannot grasp this opportunity of election for avenging the so-called pseudo-leaders and representatives. It does not matter much to the public whether our so called representatives acted like despots during their previous tenure, whether they violated rule of law, and ruled arbitrarily, and whether there were trigger-happy cowboys and unruly elected representatives or whether the elected representatives could not tolerate criticisms. We fear how many electorates would take all these into account while exercising their adult franchise? Our people ought to take into account the big issues like AFPSA, Citizenship Amendment Bill etc while exercising their right to adult franchise. But it is anybody’s guess how many voters would take these major issues into account. Still we would insist if elections are the largest festival of democracy, let’s celebrate it responsibly.

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