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Test of self trust

24 Feb. 2018 12:41 AM IST

Since the 1993 election, this newspaper has highlighted various election malpractices that rob voters of their voting rights due to proxy voters and also mortgaging people’s future when votes are auctioned. Even the clean election campaign was aired in this newspaper in 2008 in the face of rising anger at the manner in which the entire democratic process was evolving into a mockery. The most talked about is use of money which started sometime in 1974 elections in some areas of a district. The use of money spread gradually to other districts and soon took the form of a virus. Today money is the key to many elections and especially during the last two days before the polls as voters eventually decide on the strength of money being offered and received. Money buys the services of scores and even a few hundred volunteers including muscle power and gunmen of all hues. This is to intimidate, abduct and to capture booths. The continued use of foul and corrupt means during elections and passing them off as democratic exercise; only goes to show how much deviation has taken place during the decades.   Perhaps the “concerned citizens” need to also be concerned over criminalization of elections and not only about political issues; after all, corruption and criminalization should prick the conscience of all right thinking citizens. Even in the present context, the church had in 2012 feebly attempted to curb election evils but did not implement it in letter and in spirit. This was attempted for the 2018 election but mid-way it got derailed when the church was made to change tracks by acting as the catalyst of NGOs for ‘Solution Before Election’. The demand was a delusion that whatever Nagas want, the government of India has to accede to. History should have driven some sense that election had been held and very enthusiastically too because it is the ultimate of people wielding the power to decide. There was no chance at all to defer elections, no matter how strong or how genuine the desire. The BJP has been blamed for breaking ranks after signing the agreement with other political parties, to not set up candidates for election. However, if the BJP is to blame then it must also be praised for leading all other parties to participate in election, which is now being most enthusiastically contested. The real purpose of elective democracy is not about elections and which party wins and rules. It is also not about abusing and shaming traditional governments (village councils) to issue diktats in favor of a candidate. The real intention of election is to bring out the best in us as individuals, to debate and tolerate divergence and not be sucked into the same ‘Hindutva’ ideology versus secularism or the BJP/RSS plank of nationalism versus diversity. A cursory browsing of the social media by groups in Nagaland, especially by the youths reveal that a majority do not understand the complexities of modernity and its challenges. What is read in their often abrasive and at times offensive statements, reveal tiny truths, large intolerance and humungous ignorant pride. The best candidate is not one who is clever or cunning or has a lot of wealth (earned or stolen) but one who has a proven track record of public service and trust. This is the simple ingredient that Nagas must look for in choosing those who are trustworthy.

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