When allegations of corruption become a daily affair and charges are traded over media, the public faces a fatigue which then turns to disinterest. It is then that the public begin to normalise corruption as something that cannot be cured and hence must be endured. Even as the slanging match between the BJP (vide its president and spokesperson) and the NPP goes full throttle, the two BJP MLAs (one of whom is a minister) don’t seem to be on the same page with their party leadership in the state. It’s almost as if the two BJP MLAs and another defeated leader want to convey to the state BJP leadership that they should learn to endure the pain of coalition politics or get out of it. The minister and the MLA certainly are not ready to part ways with the NPP. Hence the state BJP is left non-plussed and virtually orphaned.
In this game of trading charges, governance has taken a hit. Firstly, Covid had derailed the governance process when a major chunk of resources had to be invested in fighting the pandemic. Then the allegations of illegal mining and transportation of coal had eroded the public trust and made corruption a matter of course. The public know that corruption is being facilitated by the state. They find the government denial facile. Time was when Meghalaya was under the grip of non-state actors who held it ransom and extortion and killings were rampant. Subsequent governments through various interventions were able to clip the wings of the HNLC and later the GNLC. In the latter case the military commander Sohan Shira was allegedly killed in a gun battle with the state police. Meghalaya’s police force is capable of outperforming itself when circumstances demand but what it needs is a strong, credible leadership. The barometer for good governance is the ability of the state to uphold the rule of law under all circumstances. And in this, the police force is a critical actor. It has to perform its duties independently and not at the behest of politicians. But that is easier said than done. Politicians have time and again used the police to facilitate their acts of omission and commission and police have complied. This amounts to collusion and governance is the casualty.
The State BJP has been crying wolf for the past one month to no avail. As a result the public has lost faith in the efficacy of the BJP which came to power in 2014 on the bandwagon of, “Na khaunga, na khaane dunga” (we will neither tolerate corruption nor allow others to indulge in corruption). The public see a gap between promise and delivery and has therefore lost all interest in accusations of corruption and has normalized it. But where will this rapid erosion of governance take Meghalaya?