Armed outfits active in election ? Serious allegations

The allegations are serious, very serious, if one may add. Already senior poll observer of the All India Congress Committee Jairam Ramesh has gone ahead to claim that the BJP led Government has buttered militant groups under the SoO pact with over Rs 16 crore ostensibly to back candidates of the saffron party and while this charge may just be brushed aside by the BJP as the rantings of a political opponent, it has nonetheless left a bitter taste in the mouth of the onlookers and the people. To be sure it will be a case of innocent until proven guilty, but nonetheless can all the ugly incidents especially in the Assembly Constituencies under Kangpokpi district and under Churachandpur disrtict be dismissed that easily ? Can one draw a line between the ugly incidents at some of the polling stations in the said districts and the loud proclamation from some associations of village chiefs to support the candidates of one particular political party ? All questions, but significant to note that the allegations of the Congress leader have come even as the Election Commission of India has announced repoll in 12 polling stations spread across five Assembly Constituencies. The repoll will be held tomorrow (March 5) and even as the day’s paper reaches the subscribers and the readers, people would have started getting ready to proceed to the polling stations to cast their vote. Here it is significant to note that of the  12 polling stations where repoll has been ordered, 11 are in Churachandpur and Kangpokpi districts. And this is where it becomes significant to note that the 11 polling stations are located at places where outfits under the SoO pact are active. Whatever the case maybe, it is extremely disturbing to note that armed groups, which emerged brandishing guns and muscle power to fight against a system are today alleged to be in the thick of the very same system. Nothing can get more farcical than this but this is what seems to be happening right now under the nose of the State Government and the security forces. More than underlines the point that the politics of being engaged in peace talks can be as dicey and tricky as the politics of waging a bush war against the Government. Now people’s attention will be turned to the second phase of the voting, where a large number of Assembly Constituencies come under areas where the NSCN (IM) is active and where their influence runs far and deep.
Will voting at Ukhrul, Senapati, Chandel, Tamenglong, Tengnoupal districts also see a similar story that was scripted at Kangpokpi and Churachandpur districts in the first phase ? And significant to note that in the hill districts that have just been named, it is the NSCN (IM) whose writs, diktats and influence are  believed to run deep and wide. Will these districts see a free and fair election or will it be a repeat of the earlier days when voting was largely understood as an exercise in ‘selecting’ and not ‘electing’ ? The first phase as well as the run up to the election has already exhibited something significant and if there is no change in the script during the second phase, questions may well be raised on where the claim ‘law and order’ has improved considerably in the last five years. If nothing untoward incidents occur, if candidates and supporters of all political parties are free to move around and campaign openly, then yes credit has to be given where it is due. But if anything happens to the contrary then it wouldn’t be long before questions are raised against the said claim. The political parties, the candidates are ready for the second phase of the election. The interesting point is whether the law enforcing agencies and the election office are ready to ensure a free and fair election on the day it matters.