Meet Your Candidate

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The Editors’ Guild of Manipur recently organised a gathering in connection with the forthcoming Lok Sabha election. This was to facilitate an interface with the candidates of the Outer Parliamentary Constituency with the media and representatives of civil organisations. What is encouraging is that the session was held with the initiative from the Chief Electoral Officer of the state. Interface like this one is the first of its kind to be organised under the aegis of an election authority. The election office has been taking a proactive role beyond their conventional duty of administering a smooth conduct of the election. Besides the herculean task that they have to shoulder at the time of election, this time the authority has taken effort to bring awareness among the electorates about their rights as voters. The importance of mass media has been taken into account for their integral role in disseminating not only what is considered as news, but also in the role of instilling  a sense of debate and thereby enabling an informed choice among the public. Mass media like the radio has been extensibly employed in the current electoral exercise by the election office. One can often get to hear songs of election lyrics rendered by renowned local artist of Manipur over the radio.  These songs are skillfully inserted between the news at seven-thirty of the All India Radio Imphal, clearly an attempt to make it reach to a wider sphere of public as news at this hour is hardly missed by the listeners across the state. In addition to the songs there are also quick dramatic dialogues enacted as casual conversation between husband and wife, or among two friends discussing relatable issues of election. At the end of the day it is at the disposal of the public to make sense out of the awareness drive that has been carried out at the cost of tax payers’ money. Nonetheless the effort made by the election office is indeed appreciable.
During the interface ‘Meet the Candidate 16th Lok Sabha Election 2014’, half of the ten candidates failed to turn up for the occasion. The incumbent MP of the Outer Parliamentary Constituency was present in the interface unexpectedly as speculations were doing the round that he would not turn up. He obviously attracted most of the questions during the session. Responding to one of the questions, he had confessed that it is ‘difficult’ to solve all the problems that the state has been facing. We cannot but agree with him that a five year period is too short to solve all the problems. At one point he also said that the Local Area Development Fund earmarked for each MP is too little to meet the demands of the constituencies which he represents. That is also agreed. Further, a hill based journalist requested him to point out at least one development project that he had taken up in the hill districts during his five year tenure. The journalist was specifically hinting at Senapati area where his paper was based.  Mr. Baite clearly fumbled while replying to the particular question. His reply was that he could not exactly remember the detail of the project. But he assured the journalist that a detailed report would be furnished after consulting with his staff. We would say that was the last straw. All the previous explanations that he had given regarding the meagre amount of funds, the time limitation of five years in bringing about development all turn out to be a parroting shade to sweep under all the baggage of incompetency that he carry as a representative. On a different question, Mr. Baite answered that it is not possible to take part in the parliamentary debate owing to its complicated procedures. We thank the CEO Manipur for encouraging such sessions. Let us all together make it more vibrant.

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