Tura elections – no roadmap for future

It is unfortunate that elections today are more like slugfests than about articulating a road map for progress and development. Listening to the tone and tenor of the campaigns by the NPP and the Congress candidates for the Tura by-poll we get the sense that things that had happened nine years ago are being dug up and made a spectacle of. The cancellation of power projects hastily signed by the present chief minister before the 2008 elections, when he was Power Minister, and other such matters have become the talking points for the Lok Sabha election. The NPP candidate Conrad Sangma has had to clarify why the Donkupar Roy Government, of which he was Power Minister, had to cancel the deals because they were allegedly ‘detrimental’ to the interests of Meghalaya. This is an issue that needs further debate.

One of the reasons for Meghalaya’s slow progress has been its unstable governments. Whenever a government changes, policies also change. The assumption always is that policies articulated by the previous government are steeped in corruption. It is precisely because of such inconsistent development paradigms that the Meghalaya Economic Development Council was constituted by a Resolution of the Assembly. The MEDC which was envisaged to have as members, MLAs from the ruling and opposition parties was intended to build political consensus on economic policies. Successive governments never understood this intent and turned this important agency into another yet another drab institution for accommodating defeated MLAs with no idea whatsoever about the larger objectives of the MEDC. Now the MEDC has become redundant.

Coming back to the Tura by-polls, apart from the blame game we are yet to hear of any coherent programmes of development that the candidates have outlined in case any one of them is elected as the next MP. The unfortunate part about elections is that they are driven by political parties as if voters are secondary when in fact it should be the other way round. It is the electorate which should organize public meetings and get the two candidates on a common platform and ask them searching questions. Why should voters listen passively to candidates and political parties trying to hurl abuses at each other?  The voters have nothing to gain from this but everything to lose. They should be asking their prospective MP as to how what issues he/she intends to take up on a priority basis. In this interface between the voters and candidates there should be no mediator. Candidates must be able to stand for themselves and explain their agenda to the voters. They should not rely too heavily on their party stalwarts, because  the stalwarts will not be able to accompany them and hold their hand in Parliament.

It’s time to change the rules of the game! We need a smart electorate.

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