The pre-poll state of affairs in Meghalaya is bizarre because of the unprecedented movement of political troops like mercenaries whose anthill and hideouts are under siege. But more practically it is because the state is lacking statesmen and political leaders with vision. These anxieties have been expressed in various platforms of social media and other social networking sites. Right thinking electorates are confused and disappointed as to who they should cast their votes for while exercising their franchise. A ‘NOTA’ option is another alternative but since ‘NOTA’ cannot be the winner but the one who secures the second highest number of votes will be considered elected this is as good as dud option. The concept of NOTA may be good but it is also undemocratic because it contradicts and insults the wishes of the majority. In fact it should filter out unwanted candidates through re-election process till they disappear from the fray.
Furthermore, elections are in fact an opportunity to bring social change as perceived by most of the urban electorates who are more educated than the rural folks. But the sad thing is that the rural constituencies constitute more than 80% of seats in the house. And election times in the rural segments are nothing but a fighting match between groups of people who do not see societal change as a goal for the collective progress but merely a victory against the other group. And the primary issues within these groups are merely those which are personal, emotional and local in nature. Therefore, as a state we have inherited this type of thinking which is detrimental to the legislative process. And because of this, a conglomerate and coalition of heterogeneous and redundant personalities is inevitable in the next government too. But however, one thing that is clear in the minds of everyone is a genuine desire for change.
Yes, it is a common perception that change will happen with every electoral change, but what sort of change? Is it political change or social change? Social change can be defined as the sum total of the progress of all social indicators in the society or country. While political change is just a shift of approach, style and nature of governance. India has achieved a political change from colonial governance and inherited most of the properties and characteristic from the British. But in terms of social development and progress nothing much has happened in comparison with other nations. And the reason for this is that there is a constant tussle between the opportunist and the true reformer. This is evident from the allegations and counter allegations by parties against one another and the excessive increase of candidates’ assets and wealth.
A society in fact has the capacity to progress but if it fails to understand this, then it is also meaningless to talk about past achievements. Social change or social transformation has been and is the subject matter for everyone especially the young generation. But it is also a goal in a civilized world where people always anticipate a better level of services in life. Though it is the subject matter of social science to know how and why changes happen but to understand the chain of events that lead to progress or the problems that prevent the society from progressing is indeed worth analyzing. We should not forget that the world we are living in today bears much of the legacy inherited from the beginning of the nineteenth century onwards. This can be ascribed as the dawn for large scale corporations, new political alignments and other major innovative developments and technological advancements that further gave birth to new changes and development. In a country and state like ours, social change implies nothing more than the improvement of basic necessities of life such as good drinking water, good roads, good community health care, good educational system, etc which are at present in a pathetic state and of inferior quality compared to other countries. But for God’s sake we are living in the twenty first century where some fortunate ones can even afford to live in a space shuttle free from earthly pollution.
When India acquired a new political order, the tussle of power too began to surface which has pushed the efforts and motives of true reformers to the grave. A country which is dominated by strong religious sentimentalism and illiteracy; the tendency to indulge in sectarianism, superstitious belief and practice is very common which also leads to various kinds of inhuman activities. Coupled with caste differences and deprivation, the sudden elevation of common man to governmental opportunity has further paved the way for opportunists to participate freely in governmental affairs. They are the parasites of society and are there just to fulfill their personal agenda. Our political masters at that time too have failed to eradicate these problems and rid these parasites from the helm of the state’s affairs. But instead they have compromised on many occasions for the sake of establishing themselves permanently in the seat of power. It has happened with many political parties in the past and it will happen with new parties as well unless they realize the danger. Today we can see many such parasitic personalities with no contribution, vision and strategy for social changes. Yet they are honoured by political parties for the sake of capturing power (read retired bureaucrats).
In Meghalaya the legacy of this turmoil dates back to the inception of our statehood. Our patriarchs most of whom were learned men were strongly driven by the idea of self governance which has also been echoed everywhere. And this has also led to the overwhelming mandate of regional governance in the first Assembly election. But the rural population has a limited understanding and places no significance to the idea of self-governance. Therefore, when a fellow kinsman propagates local parochial issues, that fellow becomes the hero for that segment of the population but a stumbling block to the progress of the entire community. The new political outfit floated at that time is just an effort to polarize the people of the state. It has grossly misled the illiterate and has not contributed anything to the legislative and governance process of the newly formed state. The emergence of such outfits without clear vision for the state has shattered the spirit of true reformation and finally ended up in a tussle for power and popularity. It was also a precedence that has paved the way for further division and split in a minority state. But nonetheless, it has also empowered common and illiterate people to venture into the political domain that has brought our little state into a deep imbroglio. The situation is further aggravated by the tactics of horse trading pioneered by the national party that has further bewildered our self-centered public representatives.
Looking at the traditional system of governance too which once upon a time was pure, just and infallible we see them in a mess today without any uniformity other than benefitting oneself especially by those at the helm of affairs. This happens in most of the Dorbar Shnong, Raid and Hima and even in District Councils. It seems that honesty and sincerity to serve the community has completely disappeared from the hearts of people and everyone is looking for an opportunity to secure his/her own first.
A state is defined by the nature of people and the nature of people is reflected by the class of representatives they project to govern their affairs. Looking at the kind of representatives we have sent to the state assembly it would appear that we the electors need to mend our faults.