By Batskhem Mawlein
Every aspect of politics involves decision-making and the process should include people with diverse backgrounds, interests, perspectives, gender, beliefs, race, ethnicity, age, and other characteristics. They all should have an equal opportunity to participate in the decision-making process and influence decisions that directly or indirectly affect their lives. When we hear young people say stuff like, “I’m too young to get involved in politics or even have a political opinion,” it’s tough to understand. Similarly, we hear some women declare, “Politics is a dirty word, and I don’t want to participate in it.” I’m concerned about how polarized political engagement has become in many parts of the globe. Ordinary people believe that they must be outspoken activists to participate in politics, which is not the case. Can we afford not to be engaged in politics or not to participate in politics? I want to question our young people and ordinary people in general?
Politics is about being aware of what’s going on in the world and keeping ourselves informed. It’s about being concerned about the facts. Politics is the means through which we organize ourselves as individuals and societies. Politics influences every element of life, and by refusing to participate in it, you are allowing it to control you. We let others decide how little we can eat, where we can live, whether or not we have access to health care, free education, how much tax we pay, when we can retire, and what our pension will be. Others assess whether our gender and ethnicity are sufficient to label us criminals or whether our religion and nationality are enough to place us on a terrorist watch list. People should be taught the value of decision-making and participate in it.
Political participation is a constitutionally protected right in India. Politics creates an equal chance for all citizens of a nation and an equal right to vote. People take franchises for granted. “We don’t care who wins the election because no political officials have aided them during “these troubled times.” The people can elect a new administration if they are sick of the current one. If they don’t vote, the same party will be in power for five years, or there will be no changes whatsoever. Every vote is significant. When the people’s mindset shifts to “my vote makes a difference, then the numbers increase, and a large number of people voting makes a difference and brings change. In the 2013 assembly election, Meghalaya recorded a voter turnout of 86.82%, which is lesser in 2018 with 84.86%. Even though voter engagement and trust declines as citizens are marginalized in participatory democracy, voters should go out and vote, keeping in mind that, each vote has the power to change things. Everyone can be the agent of change.
A state’s economic ability to thrive and overcome the obstacles that come with advancement is doubtful without a well-organized political structure. People’s best rights and values should be protected by governments, irrespective of race, gender, sexuality, religion, language, ethnicity, or political stances. Since its inception, the NPP-led government in Meghalaya failed; it reveals a lack of governance in every affair of the state. During the four years of its rule, the government busied itself laying foundation stones here and there to fool and attract the people for the next elections. The government has not completed several projects; most projects end up with foundation stones. Will the government complete different projects with only one year to complete its term? Or do people have to wait for another tenure to get things done.
The CM stated, “Our motto and mission to serve the people of the northeast will always be of supreme importance, as we begin a fresh chapter to expand our footprint in new regions and strengthen our organization in the states; where we already have a presence.” The NPP, a BJP partner, has become the first political party designated as a national party in the northeast. It has been established as a state party in Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, and Nagaland. The trend here is dangerous because Meghalaya stands at 32.7% among the top 5 Multi-dimensionally poor states among the Northeastern states. Furthermore, According to the NITI Aayog’s first Multi-dimensional Poverty Index (MPI) assessment on November 26, 2021, Meghalaya is India’s fifth poorest and most impoverished state in the northeastern region. If the state where they are ruling is in Poverty, how can the CM expand the NPP in the entire region? The state is in crisis, the poor have become the poorer, unemployment is on the rise, inflation everywhere so from where will the party earn money to invest in other states?
There is a possibility that the party will try its best to use Meghalaya’s funds to finance elections in other states. How can they improve the lives of others when the people of the state are suffering? The Government has led people into Poverty. A poor woman in Latvia asserted, “Poverty is humiliation, the sense of being dependent and forced to accept rudeness, insults, and indifference when we seek help. It is treacherous.” Mahatma Gandhi said, “Poverty is the worst form of violence against humanity.” If the government uses violence against the people, how does it expect the people to behave and act? Can people trust their government with their money? Not even in the least! We must demand good ownership and control of state money as residents. The electorate’s quantifiable right is to vote an inefficient government out of power. Overall, the voters determine the government we should have, not a socio-political lobby group. The people have every right to question the unjustifiable government.
There is indeed a backlog in money flow wherever it may be. There seems to be a culture of fraud. The CM, in the role of titular leader, is in charge of the overall system. Even among his co-workers, his way of doing things has sparked a lot of resentment. Democracy includes a form of democratic decision-making wherein the citizens exercise the authority provided by the Constitution. Decision-making for public welfare requires that all citizens actively participate in the elections. People are free to express their opinions, run for public office, and suggest recommendations. Most importantly, decisions are taken using some rational, socially progressive, and efficient approach of combining their voiced opinions. Few people are indifferent to politics; it is a precarious inclination. “Indifference” carved above Milan’s Holocaust monument entrance emphasizes that the opponent of love is apathy, not hatred. The victims become invisible as a result of their own indifference. When Jews were dragged through Milan’s magnificent streets to the central railroad station for transportation to detention camps beginning in 1943, no one seemed to mind.
It is common to see some sections or regions receive insufficient attention for various reasons. Additionally, several smaller parties are formed as a result of politics. Minor national-level parties such as NPP, NCP, and now TMC have come up. The regional parties like the UDP. PDF, HSPDP, KHNAM, GNC, etc., are voiceless. How they will go to the public in the next election? The sad story is that they have become speechless in the Assembly where voice matters. In this manner, society cannot benefit from equal growth and prosperity if the most prominent and most vigorous regional parties in India under the leadership of Naidu to Banerjee had failed their nationwide wager in 2019. What are the prospects of the regional parties in Meghalaya now?
Money has become prevalent in politics, from ordinary party business to selection of candidates, day-to-day government operations, and policy manipulation for personal advantage. Interestingly, poor governance leads to higher spending, with funds used for fraudulent vote-buying. Every election, politicians spend lots of money on canvassing and handing out money to people. However, most of today’s political votes are purchased on the wrong side. At present, in Meghalaya, one vote will cost Rs 500 or 1000 and upwards not only in rural but in urban areas too. Ironically, individuals are deceived; money goes to a few pockets of those close to politicians.
Politics in the state is a principle in which the powerful hold total authority over society and must be challenged by others who lack the means to make a positive impact. The average citizen bears all of the burdens. Politicians and persons with solid political histories and families have ultimate power and can accomplish whatever they choose to. The ordinary citizens will undoubtedly feel the consequences of it all. It is one of the most severe repercussions of governance. We need leaders who are not interested only in power but leaders who genuinely empower people. Leadership is not about control but service and not about manipulation but inspiration. Yet, we will not live in darkness; the people need to convince our politicians to infuse leadership qualities in the younger generation to bring a change in the governance of the state.