Price of MDA’s friendly contests
What is unique to Meghalaya is that coalition partners in a government nearly always contest bye- elections against each other in what is termed a “friendly fight.” There is no loyalty of purpose. Each party tries to score over the other even as they try and project a united front to the world. This “friendly contest” among coalition partners of the MDA is actually opening up a window of opportunity for the opposition Congress which appears to have made headway in Garo Hills by getting back into its fold those who had earlier deserted the party for greener pastures.
In a state where the idea of a political party is merely that of a uniform worn during elections and where people actually voted in the past for individuals and their personal charisma and later for the money that’s on offer, the ideology of political parties hardly matters. In Meghalaya, the number of political parties that have been birthed and died a natural death along with their founders are many. Yet. before every election, new political parties are born with the intent of capitalizing on the frustrations of people by pointing to the existing political parties and how they have failed the public.
Political parties hardly speak of the ideology on which they stand and which they will defend to the hilt. All regional parties in Meghalaya have one common ideology – to defend the “jaidbynriew” (the people or the ethnic communities) from a list of hyped- up fears such as the fear of being overwhelmed by the majority community from the rest of India; the fear that others will take away jobs and businesses; the fear that others (non-indigenous people) might capture political power. In all of the above issues or fear mongering, no facts and figures are cited. There are no academic citations to prove whether those fears are genuine or just pitches to emotionally blackmail the electorate. Since the electorate is largely ignorant of such issues and there is none to clarify and call the bluff of political parties for fear of being labelled “traitors,” political actors get by with all these uncontested yet frivolous claims – an election tactic they have used for decades and forgotten thereafter. Political parties hardly speak of a development road map and nor do they give the public a blueprint of how they wish to achieve their goals. Manifestos are generic in nature and no one really pays attention to what’s in the manifestos. Hence, we have the ugly politics of today where politicking is an end in itself.