Thursday, March 30, 2023

Zombies in politics

‘Always vote for principle, though you may vote alone.’ John Quincy Adams Today there are many political parties, both regional and national, fighting for elections in Nagaland.
They are organized on some particular ideologies which may or may not fully represent the political aspirations of the locals. Some of them may even be considered strange and foreign ideologically or culturally. Despite that many Nagas have readily embraced them gladly and selfishly with a view to piggyback on the success of others without properly understanding first that a regional political party cannot thrive without regionalism nor can a national political party flourish successfully without nationalism. Perhaps many of them may feel cheated, disappointed, and frustrated afterward and abandon the parties after the election if their expectation is not fulfilled. Winston Churchill said, ‘Some men change their party for the sake of their principles; others their principles for the sake of the party.’
‘Wherever it takes a disaster to unite, politics generally divide: and in eras of intense uncertainty, a nation’s people retreat into the tribes in which they feel the most secure’ asserted author Criss Jami.
It is said that most political parties criticize the party in power, not for the best of the people, but to get the power for themselves. ‘If a political party does not have its foundation in the determination to advance a cause that is right and that is moral, then it is not a political party; it is merely a conspiracy to seize power,’ said Dwight D Eisenhower.
Ideas move the world and drive politics. Without them, they will become dead bodies and cannot attract followers. Politicians must be committed to the ideologies of their party otherwise they cannot inspire and enthuse the public to follow or support them to win any election. Joining them without commitment will only make them mere passengers and opportunists. How many Naga politicians have joined the regional or national party without the ‘ism’? The body dies the moment the spirit leaves it.
It becomes a corpse and unresponsive to any external stimuli. Will the political parties remain alive and active even after the election?
Occasionally, it is publicly expressed and felt that there is a need for political and social change in Nagaland. Accordingly, many new national political parties have been introduced and new regional political parties have been launched this time. They are all contesting the election with great hope of winning at least some seats. Will they win it? Will they survive the hustle and bustle of Naga politics?
The politicians committed to their ideologies will remain unchanged regardless of the results not otherwise. They will sacrifice personal interests for the party.
In Nagaland, every election is largely driven to success by money and muscle power. They rarely consider the quality of the candidates. That’s why we keep on electing condemned and notorious candidates again and again. However, common sense will tell us that unless we elect new and fresh candidates, we cannot have a change in the government. Because JS Mill said, ‘The worth of the state, in the long run, is the worth of the individuals composing it.’ That is why we should not put ‘too much faith in the systems, and look too little to men’.
Benjamin Disraeli said, ‘The government of a nation itself is usually found to be the reflex of the individuals composing it. In the order of nature, the collective character of the nation will as surely find its befitting result in its law and government, as water finds its own level. The noble people will be nobly ruled, and ignorant and corrupt ignobly.’ ‘National progress is the sum of individual industry, energy, and uprightness, as national decay is of individual idleness, selfishness, and vice.’
Have the Nagas become too materialistic and selfish abandoning every political ideology and becoming blind followers of others without any original idea of their own or self-respect? Once upon a time, the Nagas were very vocal and assertive about their regionalism and identity but it appears that the spirit of regionalism or Nagaism has lost its charm with this generation searching for a new identity or ideology; getting lost in the crowd without a sense of direction while moving from one political party to another is like a shuttle cock without a thought except for instant personal gratification devoid of any attachment to national or regional political ideology. Making themselves an easy target for political merchants available to the highest bidder. Intentionally or unintentionally become or becoming the scum of modern politics corrupting the political system. They are amoral and oblivious to the effects of their political activities, encouraged by their supporters, and are causing irreparable damage to politics and society.
It’s a pity that a state known as the bastion of regionalism in India is, today, grappling with its identity and in a quandary. They sacrificed so much for Nagaism but are being lost again literally groping in darkness and the political wilderness. They are still unable to figure out which national or regional political party would suit them best in the State Assembly or the Parliament of India. Neither do most of them seem to be comprehending the implications of their actions. Perhaps, many politicians are contesting because of personal reasons, rather than for political differences or principles. Neither do the voters care for the personal qualifications nor reputation or merit of the candidates. Some sporty politicians may even be attracted by the sheer excitement of the election campaign that it generates and join the fray for fun. The ‘tamasha’ is unmatched. Every citizen can play a great role and be given great importance during the election campaign, receiving royal treatment everywhere from the candidates for their precious votes, turning them into monarchs instantly after winning it while simultaneously converting the voters into subjects.
We, the Nagas witness some of the most despicable characters during every election where the ignorant and ignoble rule like autocrats. It is not fair to blame the politicians alone for this mess. This is due to our collective short-sightedness as responsible citizens only looking for instant monetary gratifications. Our weakness for individualism and crass materialism has been exploited by clever and selfish leaders to capture power. Once they achieve their goal, they become Frankenstein’s monsters and spiritually dead bodies loitering around without conscience for public service or sensitivity to any external stimuli. James Freeman Clarke said, ‘A politician thinks of the next election; a statesman thinks of the next generation.’ This present generation hasn’t produced any worthy statesmen or nationalists though it has created some wealthy persons through corruption. The affluent society without conscience has destroyed the traditional egalitarian Naga society and divided us into the haves and have-nots and possible class conflict in the future caused by the obnoxious, pompous, flamboyant, and ostentatious lifestyle of the nouveau riche who have attained their position by questionable means. All right-thinking Nagas must address the importance of public service and promote the spirit of the region or nation first before the self.
‘No class is ever long stationary.
The mighty fall and the humble are exalted.
Oliver Cromwell’s great-grandson was a grocer, others died in poverty.
Thanks be to God! we are all made men.’ – William Phillip
Besesayo Kezo, IPS, Retd. DGP

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