Voters’ responsibility to ensure accountability
Indeed, the 12th Manipur Legislative Assembly election is round the corner. As expected, all major political parties with the exception of BJP have released their election manifestos and a couple of issues which are reflected in almost all these manifestos are removal of the infamous Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act 1958 from the State and protection of the State’s territorial integrity. Only time will tell how sincere are these political parties regarding the crucial issues of AFSPA, territorial integrity etc. If the past election manifestos are any indication, majority of the people/voters would be certainly doubtful about the promises made by political parties on AFSPA. Since decades back, almost all political parties promised to either scrap or fight against the draconian law, but AFSPA is still here, very much alive. But people have been electing the same political parties again and again, either out of helplessness or want of better option, in spite of their unfulfilled promises. Accountability is anathema to the class of legislators our people have been electing so far. One cannot heap the entire blame on politicians for their lack of accountability. Voters must share at least half the blame. The political process in general and election in particular in Manipur society is marked by certain discernible trends. Such trends call for serious engagement on the part of thinking public and leaders who dare to dream for a change in our society. One aspect of this trend is manifested in the political condition of contemporary Manipur society and its electoral process. Unfortunately most of the national political parties are also unable to generate a substantive issue based electoral politics; they simply fight election for the sake of power. This can be gauged from the fact that most people do not understand which political party stands for what principles, goals, objectives, in short, their ideology.
Interestingly in most of the elections held in Manipur, manifesto of a political party, which is supposed to be the most vital aspect of the election, has become least important. 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 progress report of a ruling party are conspicuous by its absence in our society. It is hardly visible in the domain of mass media as well. The end product is the emergence of ‘lies’ and lip service as governing political technology on the part of ruling political elites. Another ugly trend of the electoral politics of Manipur is party-hopping. MLAs and politicians hopping between different political parties back and forth is a regular occurrence in the political landscape of Manipur. This lack of political sincerity and commitment to a cause, along with the rise of money power and muscle power as predominant factors in the electoral process have completely degenerated and eliminated politics as struggle and contest over certain enduring values that are essential marker of being a civilised and developed society. But then politics is also definitely about struggle for power but power by itself is not an end. It always and unfailingly evokes a question; power for what? It is a tragedy that genuine politics is absent in the electoral politics of Manipur. 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 flows. When corruption and bribery have been accepted as a way of life, expecting all the legislators and politicians to be clean and corruption-free would be akin to asking for the moon. But the process of cleansing the electoral system must start somewhere and the upcoming election can be a perfect starting point. The process of re-defining electoral politics in Manipur must start with the electors themselves. People can enthrone or dethrone a political party; electors can make or unmake a political party. If accountability is expected from the representatives, voters must be sensible and must vote responsibly and conscientiously.