Governance a casualty in Meghalaya

The allegations by an elected representative that the MDA Government is losing Rs 1200-1500 crore of revenue on account of the illegal extraction and transportation of coal should be taken seriously. This amount is not small change for a state like Meghalaya that relies heavily on central government dole. Secondly, the entire state machinery appears to be facilitating this illegality thereby sabotaging the rule of law. That the officer on special duty (OSD) to the former Home Minister is being mentioned by the Lok Ayukta should have pushed the government to replace the OSD and to correct the anomalies. Instead the Government chooses to challenge the Lok Ayukta in court which is unprecedented. It is only in the present government that OSDs have been used to cut deals. Earlier, people who held this post conducted themselves with dignity. What irks the public about this Government is that the OSDs also screen out who can meet the Chief Minister and who cannot. This is not what democracy is all about. The Chief Minister cannot avoid meeting people when they ask for an audience, not to address their personal grievances, but to flag an issue of public concern.

 The BJP, an alliance partner in the MDA Government has been firing on all cylinders to keep the issue of corruption alive. The Party now plans to approach the High Court to address corruption in the three district councils – a point that has been simmering for a long time now and which the NPP – the leading coalition partner has been trying to sweep under the carpet. Another sore point about the present coalition is that dialogue seems to have degenerated to diatribes in the media. The State NPP President and newly elected Rajya Sabha member, uses pejorative language bordering on arrogance while countering the allegations of the BJP President Ernest Mawrie and spokesperson, Bernard Marak. This would not go down well with the BJP and the NPP might have to pay the price for such arrogance.

The failure of governance and the impunity it brings into how institutions and individuals function are serious issues. They erode public trust and confidence which take a long time to correct. When institutions are compromised it is difficult to bring them back on the rails.  As it is, lawlessness is on the rise in the state. The law keepers who are told to facilitate the movement of coal-bearing trucks are not going to do it without compensation. There will be attrition even in the police morale. This is not a good sign for Meghalaya.

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