ADCs: Election, not undue delay, must follow dissolution
It appears an unseen force is holding back the much delayed election to the six Autonomous District Councils of the State. The six ADCs were dissolved after their usual term of five years was extended by six months. After expiry of the extended six months period, the election to the ADCs should have been held in October/November last year but it was deferred on the recommendation of the Hill Areas Committee. The all pervasive COVID-19 pandemic might have been one primary reason for the deferment of the ADC election but the pandemic has been brought to a manageable level, if not totally contained. This is neither rainy season nor harvesting period. In short, it is the perfect time for holding the much delayed ADC election. The Chief Minister also went on record stating that the State Government is keen to hold the ADC election and the same election would be held shortly. But no tangible preparation to hold the ADC election could be seen on ground as yet. Is there any authentic ground for further delaying the election to the ADCs? The authorities concerned must hold the much-awaited election within the shortest possible time or come out with a convincing explanation for the inordinate delay otherwise it would not be wrong to assume that the authorities which are responsible for upholding democracy are depriving the hill populace of every essence of democracy. Though the election is confined to the five hill districts, it has its own significance and implications. For meaningful democracy to reach and thrive at grassroots level, ADC election is a crucial tool and it must be held as soon as possible. Yes, there are traditional institutions like village chieftainship in the hill districts of Manipur for justice delivery and administration of daily affairs at village level. But these institutions cannot fit the billing and expectations commanded by modern democracy.
To take development and tenets of modern democracy to grassroots level, elected local bodies take the central position. Herein lies the importance of Autonomous District Councils and the significance of polls held to elect ADCs. There is no second opinion to the demand for adequate devolution of powers to elected ADCs so that they can evolve into living institutions. What is dubious is the electoral system and the way how elections are fought in this part of the world. Juxtaposition of democracy and the electoral practices seen in India gives a very awkward picture. The Indian electoral system has a plethora of disadvantages and shortcomings. Utilization of communal allegiances and armed hoodlums, interference and open support given to some favoured candidates/parties by militants, excessive employment of muscle and money power, wrongful utilization of governmental machinery, corruptive exercises like booth-capturing, intimidation and impersonation of voters are ubiquitous negative features of Indian electoral system, and Manipur does not lag behind any one when it comes to such electoral malpractices. This is a matter of utter shame for every one of us and it demands a serious introspection. A closer analysis of the preceding elections indicates that it were the candidates who decided their own fates during elections, not the mass. Winning or losing an election all depended on how many millions a candidate can spend, how effectively he/she can employ all sorts of arm-twisting tactics and how much he/she can hoodwink the mass by means of volumes and volumes of lies, and of course impressive promises which would never see the light of day. This is not intended to undermine the significance of ADC election but we are just attempting to sensitize the electorates so that only the competent and sincere candidates are elected. For the last ADCs have been already dissolved, new ones must be elected without undue delay.