Political Lottery, With Silence

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The campaign for the Inner parliamentary constituency of the 16th Lok Sabha election ends on April 15 evening. This is to give a breathing space to the voters, a day ahead of the election. In short, the voters are given time to contemplate before making a crucial decision. The much needed political debate which was silent for a long time resonates only during the time of election. We have contested earlier that this kind of silence is a detriment to the health of a functioning democracy. In absence of a political debate, democracy is rendered, more or less – to a regimented regime of dictatorship. All kinds of voices are subdued except for the lone voice of the dictator. This sudden wakefulness by the political parties from its slumber in the time of election exposes their myopic interest in electoral opportunism solely. As election gets nearer, one could find all sorts of political conferences being taken out by the different political parties. The voters are fed with heavy political diet, leaving little time for digestion. We doubt, not in an absolute sense that an informed choice for choosing a representative or a party is just too short of a time. Agreed that election manifestos are released at the time of election, but what about a party manifesto as such? Why cannot a political party put into record of their thoughts to be accessed by the people much before election comes?  This should include their views on different issues of the state and the society; their vision and the possible solution of the problems that the state is ridden with. With most of the party singing the same tune of removing AFSPA, with every candidates sloganeering to protect the territorial integrity of Manipur; the question is to whom the people are going to trust. In fact, these two issues, with all its importance, have been turned into a populist card to woo the voters. A careful and proper dissection is needed to ascertain what kind of political party or candidate would be able to translate their promises into action. This is not so easy of a task, except for a minority of people who take politics seriously. They could be scholars or a handful of people who work as activist of civil organisations, and besides a miniscule section of the intelligentsia. The majority are buried under their ordinary worries. We are not saying that everyone should become scholars or activists in order to understand the political parties and their politics. However those who are in the helms of it have an obligation to make themselves heard to the people not only during the time of election. By doing so, the voters would enable themselves in becoming an informed participant who can equally take part in deciding their own fate. A simple analogy would be the choice of a cook. The Meitei community for whom Usop (a kind of feast) is a regular practice, each family has their own preference for a particular cook. An advance notice is served to their choice of cook. Their preference for a cook is informed by their experience of having known of the quality of food that they have tasted. It would be difficult to choose a cook that they have not known. The cook could turn out to be a crook with little experience of cooking. By maintaining a comfortable silence, the political class is testifying the classic adage that ‘rulers rule on the ignorance of the people’. Besides the AFSPA and the ‘territorial integrity’, all other issues are meddled up within their diatribe, of allegation and counter allegation. At best, the rhetoric tune of bringing ‘nungai yaiphaba khunai’ (a welfare state), ‘waat-ta paadaba’ (prosperous), ‘tangdu leitaba’ (peaceful), are played again and again to our ears. There is a man with a microphone who sales lottery tickets for the whole year, just at the foot of Thong Nambonbi Bridge at Imphal. He also sings the same tune, with the assurance that one should win the lottery by buying his ticket. One thing common between the man and the candidates is: selling dreams; the former through lottery tickets and the latter through vote.

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