Elections, public meetings and rallies

Election campaigns are essentially a show of strength by different candidates. The ploy adopted is to bring in bus-loads of supporters from other areas of the constituency and have them converge at the place where a public meeting is scheduled on a particular day. All political parties but mainly the Congress Party in Rajabala have violated the Covid protocols with impunity. Normally the Election Commission sends flying squads comprising magistrates etc., to ensure that protocols are followed and no violations happen. But what is seen in places like Rajabala and Mawphlang raise questions as to what the election vigilance teams were doing there when hordes of people congregated without masks and social distancing. It has been seen time and again that rules and regulation are flouted by the very people who are in the seats of governance and because of which the Election Department is unable to take strict action where needed.
The campaign timings too have not been adhered to by many candidates. In fact, the use of very high decibel loudspeakers that are a nuisance to people around the venue of the election rallies especially in the evenings when students are at their peak study hours, should be disallowed because of the potential for noise pollution. Why, for instance do candidates and their star campaigners, usually the MLAs have to shout and scream at the loud speaker in an attempt to expose the sins of the ruling government before the electorate? Isn’t the Assembly a better space to expose the Government? Did we hear any of the MLAs who are spouting fire and brimstone raising the issue of huge irregularities in the Power Department and the MeECL in the Assembly? If the media had not followed up on these irregularities assiduously they would have been buried under mounds of paper. Opposition MLAs are heard making generic references to corruption in use of Covid funds but none of them take the trouble to do their own research into any of the government schemes and their implementation. Part of the MLA scheme should have been dedicated for ground research but that is asking for too much from MLAs in Meghalaya. They are mere masters of rhetoric.
Electioneering in the 21st century cannot continue to follow the mode of the 20th century. Surely there are other ways of better reaching the target audience without getting them to sacrifice a day’s wages to attend an election rally. The Election Commission of India should itself be more creative about suggesting better electioneering methods. Remember it was the election rallies early this year that led to the rise in Covid cases.

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