Intricacies of intending candidates
The State election is going to be held within 5 months from now. Now-a- days we have come across many indenting candidates in almost every Assembly constituency. Manipur is a tiny state with a very small population. It has only 60 Assembly segments and each assembly carries about thirty thousand electors. So, for a sure shot win a candidate must get around 15 thousand votes.
All kinds of TV, Cable, Radio channels have started taking interviews of the intending candidates. It is really interesting to listen to them. Interesting ideas and opinions are expressed by the intending candidates in such public tate-a-tate shows. Sometimes it seems sponsored by the intending candidates. It is so evident that the interviewer or the compere kept mum after a brief introduction and allowing the candidate to utter whatever he wants to say.
These are new campaigns, mild and superficial, mainly for self projection and aggrandizement. Most of these programs are very cordially conducted and intending candidates are allowed to freely express their views. Even among the candidates there is hardly any disagreement on issues because all of them talk good things for the people and for the state.
Young voters are not very impressed by the tone and tenor of the intending candidates. They find the ideas old and redundant. Candidates are still talking about roads, water, drains, draughts, irrigation, agriculture, bribery, jobs etc. Perhaps no one has so far come up with a transforming idea that can change the entire socio-politico-economic landscape of the State.
Intelligentsia is really fed up of getting few bucks just on the eve of the elections. Families are receiving the polythene packets containing of aloo, piaj, dal, chawal, namak, mustard oil etc. Poor people happily accept and the rich reluctantly in the name of Pandemic difficulties. They all know these are election gimmicks and political investment. Some are smart enough to cater water when the tanks and tapes are dry. Boon from offering water is bona fide in all cultures.
Elderly ladies grumble that they have not seen the spouse of the intending male candidate; they want to bless or squeeze her too. Younger women desire to make friendship with the wife of the candidate from futuristic angle. Girls simply eager to see the lady - good looking or not – soft spoken or not. But everyone wants to have a friendly relation with the leader’s wife – future MLA or Minister or CM. The simple reason for this is that they may not very comfortable sharing certain things with the male leader. So, it is politically prudent to expose the spouse to the maddening crowd.
Political analysts are normally so skeptical about the promises and assurances made by the candidates. They also have a poor opinion about the incumbents. Most of them are inefficient, corrupt, manipulative, immoral, scoundrels and history sheeters. Die hard critics are not very hopeful about the new candidates who are jumping around their constituencies with new pledges as they are also the product of the same soil and society. But you can still try a few of them who have taken clear-cut radical stand on corruption, drugs, etc.
Those who had been in the fry or those who are actively involved with the campaigns and politicking know how much money is required for winning an election. They all say that money is not the only factor that leads to victory, but it is an inevitable component for winning the election. They must be true because they are in the field at the ground level. They quote mind boggling figure for such a small election with some 35 thousand voters. The amount spent by the prospective candidates is really humongous – it is in crores – much beyond the official limit.
Another very important factor for winning election is the equation with the insurgents – both in the hills and valley. If the intending candidate has a bad rapport he or she may not win the election; because they can influence the electorates through the local clubs and bodies. Either their support or their neutrality is necessary in an open contest. Not all the insurgent groups are involved but some are.
We can’t simply blame our leaders or our intending candidates for dirty politics, unethical means, use of money and muscle power for winning the elections. We all are party to these activities. Numerous voters accept money (cash for vote); many are under the direct or indirect influence of the power brokers; fickle minds are influenced by all kinds of allurement (feast, fishes and freebies); strong young workers are getting bikes and girls are getting gold-chains. Threats and counter threats between the candidates is a common syndrome; gun culture and intimidation becomes in vogue in the hustings. Until and unless we all change our attitude and mind-set the present practice of electoral politics will continue.
In the neighbourhood, these days Mizoram is having a much organized and fairer election. There is nothing wrong to emulate good practices from others. In our State too some right thinking citizens have started a movement for a clean and fair election. I wish them success but it is still a far cry.
“I am no prophet. My job is making windows where there were walls “, Foucault.