“Cowardice asks the question, ‘Is it safe?’ Expediency asks the question, ‘Is it politic?’ Vanity asks the question, ‘Is it popular?’ But conscience asks the question, ‘Is it right?’ And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular but one must take it because one’s conscience tells one that it is right.”
– Martin Luther King Jr.
Today, we are going to polling booths to cast out votes. Our decision in selecting the right candidate is very important, let us select the right ones.
Election comes and election goes, but the negative impact of voting for a wrong candidate will remain for the next five years. It is high time, we open our eyes and refrain from selling our votes for money, a practise that have been happening in Manipur in the open so shamelessly. It is our duty to vote for the right candidates, who is going to represent us.
Let us not make our decision, in the parameters of sak-mai yengnaba, mari-mata, marup-mapang, sel-thum gi kannagadaba (nepotism), khangna channaba etc. Let us make honest judgement on who are the right candidates.
We can prepare a report card of our own of the candidates (in our constituencies). In the checklist we can consider the candidates’ press reports (print, TV and online media), stands/ views on issues, leadership qualities, past track records, fairness of campaign, knowledge of the schemes, policies, ideas, models that will bring positive change, economic savviness, thoughts out of the box, vision, incorruptibleness, ethical values etc. With all the information we have, let us dissect and evaluate them, while making our decisions.
The candidates are going all out to sell themselves to the voters by all means. They might offer you money, their speeches are prepared such that they distort the truth in a way that none of us detect. They might have passed the blame, or have done the blame games in the campaigns, they might have promised the sky, they might have fuelled rumours; they might have evaded the real issues. Who knows if the picture or the video of news report or campaign we see in the media, might have been staged by their media advisors whose job is to make candidates look good to people. We need to be aware of how the media influences us. Let us ask questions to ourselves as we watch.
Let us check what issues the candidates try to avoid. Let us examine how their names got involved in controversial projects, or let us look if they have a personal stake in it, or let us see if they explained themselves without making inconsistent statements. Our right candidates should be the ones who will not manipulate the outcome of situations for their gain.
Again, another tough question might pop up in our minds – should I vote to a candidate based on – my evaluation about him, or with respect to his political party?
It’s a tough call to make. We have to be concerned about the development of the constituency, and our local issues; at the same time we have to remember that individual politicians don’t have much power over the course of policies that will govern us. That call, I leave it upto you to decide.
It was reported some days ago that 29 crorepati candidates are there among the 98 candidates who are standing for election in the second phase (to be held on 8th March); and 54 crorepatis out of 167 in the first phase (to be held on 4th March), 8 of them have declared criminal cases against themselves. If you look deeper, you will realise the many of them declared their assets much lesser, else we would have seen a bigger figure there.
Manipur’s modern culture of corruption is the nexus of politician-contractor-technocrat-bureaucrat who steals public money in standardised percentages. This organised system of robbery loots our money. Public money meant for building infrastructures have turned into marble palaces, sports utility vehicles and expensive apartments owned by politicians and government employees in the metropolises of the country. Do I need to say more? We all know that. Now is the time, we can bring about positive change. Let us make right decisions while casting our votes.
(The writer can be reached at ringo(dot)p(at)gmail(dot)com, or facebook(dot)com/ringo(dot)pebam)