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Election Dilemma

It is an irony that when the state should be worrying about the fair conduct of the forthcoming elections, its has to be by the force of circumstance, giving most part of its energy and concern to the imminent security problems ahead, particularly the one posed by the call for election boycott by the NSCN(I-M). Other than being an irony of fate, it must also be quite a dilemma for the government. If not tackled deftly, the situation can be reduced to a Hobson`™s choice. On the one hand, shortage of security can mean the election exercise being rendered hollow, as in the case of the elections to the 13th Lok Sabha in the Manipur Outer constituency, with an intimidated electorate not stirring out of their homes on election day. On the other, is the unseemly picture of an election held in a scenario where the security presence is stronger than the strength of the electorate. Either way, it can paint a dismal picture of the democratic process. We suppose the only real choice left before the establishment is to pick the lesser of the two embarrassments. And this is exactly what the state government did when it requested the Centre for 437 companies of Central forces to augment the state`™s own security capabilities. However, from all indications, the Centre does not seem to share the state`™s concern, or panic as the situation may be. It is reliably learnt that the Centre has offered to deploy only 25 battalions of its forces, a pittance considering state government`™s perception of the magnitude of disruption potential.

Physical hostilities between the Central government and the NSCN(I-M) may have ended ever since the ceasefire agreement two years ago, but conflicts still continue at the psychological level. In fact, the tussle over the participation or non participation at three consecutive elections now is a fallout of this cold war. Psychological territory is what either side now wants to claim. The government of India wants to prove that the Nagas in their heart of hearts have accepted the Indian constitutional process, while the NSCN(I-M) wants to prove just the opposite. While open hostilities were on, the ones to suffer the most were the ordinary people. In this cold war too it seems it will again be the people who suffer the worst casualty. It is no longer physical agony they undergo, but the torments of having their free volition suppressed and trampled upon. In the prevailing circumstance, we are of the opinion that it tells nothing of the actual mandate of the people even if nobody comes out to vote or else officially everybody comes out to exercise their franchise. Just as participation in the electoral process must be voluntary, so must refraining from it be out of free will. The people, particularly the Nagas, on whom the weight of this ongoing cold war fall, must sit down and reflect on their plight, weigh all the consequence of each option open and make their final decision. The crucial question to be answered is, do they want representatives of their choice in the 7th Manipur State Legislative Assembly. If they willingly opted to say no, then we suppose there will be nothing for them to regret. But if they wanted it and still did not participate in the elections, they must remember that they will still have their representatives, but sadly not of their choice.

Leader Writer: Leader Writer: Svoboda Kangleicha



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