Battle for Meghalaya in the upcoming election

Editor,

 In a political equivalent of spread betting, campaigning from two constituencies is a legitimate game plan in India and even in state politics where politicians often contest elections from two seats. As the state is preparing for the assembly elections, the Chief Minister of Meghalaya also took a major decision in the direction of the Assembly elections to be held next year. According to sources, although not announced publicly, The CM expressed his desire to contest from two constituencies for the upcoming elections in the state. Many have criticized this move taken by the CM and claim that his confidence has dipped. In fact the CM is full of confidence and he wants to show his dominance and totally eradicate the National People’s Party (NPP) from both the constituencies. It will be interesting to see how things turn out after the elections for both the CM and the Congress Party. 

Yours etc,.

Phrangshai Marbaniang,

Via email

On railways, coal mining ban and influx

Editor,

The experts have spoken. The people in the know have shared their views and opinions. Perhaps it is also time for a common person like myself with less knowledge to try and share my views and opinions on the railways vis-a-vis coal mining ban. Is it good? Is it bad? Well the truth of the matter is everyone is entitled to their own opinion. And there are also some who don’t give a damn. Some say when the railroad reaches Shillong essential commodities will be cheaper. Really? Will they? Well that remains to be seen as there are many learned, knowledgeable people who argue for and against this particular view. Then there is also a very popular view that when rail tracks reach Shillong there will be influx of the outsiders meaning non-indigenous people. I am left to wonder if these non-indigenous people travel only by rail? Maybe they would skip the railroad and come by air. Perhaps they would come via the usual route, by road or perhaps they would just choose to come via the unguarded borders or unchartered territories. Anyway it is assumed that if we can freeze the railways only up till Assam then there’ll be no influx. Right? Isn’t that the argument?

A few years ago when I was living in Khliehriat because of my job we had to take a vehicle from Lad Rymbai to travel to Khliehriat. Lad Rymbai was overflowing with non-indigenous people. The vehicle fare was then ₹Rs 10 from Lad Rymbai to Khliehriat and vice –versa.

There were these Maruti 800s used as public transport but with no registration at all. I asked around and people said that they just bought and use them straight away. Registration has never been a necessity. One can make out that the portion of the bumper for sticking/screwing the number plates were never disturbed. But that’s not the point here. The first time I used these public transports I was a bit confused. The drivers and helpers (who were all non-indigenous by the way)were calling passengers and shouting “Khiladi, Khiladi, Khiladi”. Then I asked which ones goes to “Khliehriat”. Surprisingly, they answered “Yes, this one goes to Khiladi”. Then I understood “Khiladi” is “Khliehriat”. Lad Rymbai was like the Biblical Sodom and Gomorrah, as some religious people would often put it. One can see posters of movies that are  screened or will be screened in the cinemas openly on display with nude figures right there in the main Lad Rymbai market.

Now everybody knows that there is a huge influx of non-indigenous people in the coal belt areas and it is mostly these immigrants that feed the coal trucks and their masters. There were no railways. How did these people reach the coal belt areas? It is also common knowledge that most of these NGO-wallahs are into coal business. Period. There was no question of influx then. So why now? Why not then?

And then the good old NGT came along and hurt feelings by banning rat hole coal mining. Coal mining work suddenly stopped as everyone was unsure of what the NGT ban actually meant. There was chaos. A large number of people were affected by the ban – both local and non-local, indigenous and non-indigenous. There were also reports in various news – print and digital about large scale out-flux of illegal immigrants and non-indigenous people. Influx problem was solved. The influx protesters should have been happy, yet they weren’t, why? Influx protesters, protested the coal ban, why? Common people like me are confused. We don’t need coal anyway. What do we need coal for? Technology has come of age where humans can harness the power of the sun and the wind and use it in place of fossil fuels.

Anyway, let us hope that coal mining ban is lifted and it will be business as usual. But the railway if it ever sees the light of day, shall pass through Shillong, go through Jaiñtia Hills down to Assam via Silchar. Then most of the coal ferrying trucks would be useless/redundant. Wouldn’t that be bad for some people’s business? What about influx? We would still need these ‘illegal immigrants’ and ‘non-indigenous people’ to do the hard labour (coal digging) for us. Well I end here. What transpires remains to be seen!

Yours Etc..,

Pyntngen Nongpluh,

Shillong-8

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