Peoples’ hopes sink; political brazenness rises
The morning papers were normally the breakfast appetizers one enjoys before starting the day. Nowadays we open the morning papers with trepidation of fresh scams, shame and humiliation our elected representative might have in store for us that day. On Saturday May 21, 2022 one read with incredulous astonishment the depth to which the top political leadership of the state are prepared to stoop in their attempt to defend corruption. The Top Right corner of the ST front page carried reports on the reaction of the Chief Minister and the Dy CM on the emerging scandal from the ISBT Mawiong. It is an open secret that the ISBT was constructed at a cost of 48 crores, inaugurated by Union Home Minister, Amit Shah and operationalised not less than 6 weeks ago. The roof of the building are now leaking, cracks appearing in its walls, the cement plastered over Styrofoam packaging material used instead of bricks has started to peel off and there is now fear that the whole ISBT structure itself might just collapse because its pillars might not have the solid foundation they require. All in all a sub-standard, shoddy job expected perhaps from a local mistri but certainly not from a high profile construction company to whom most Government contracts are now entrusted.
The surprising thing is that the only reprimand the CM can think of when such brazen corruption is exposed is “A contractor is a contractor!” What does he mean? Is it a cheap shot at his own Cabinet colleague, a ruthless coal baron, unprincipled contractor and main financer of the NPP posing now as an honourable, respected elected law maker? Or is this an involuntary blurt of the truth that this MDA Govt will continue to blindly tolerate corruption? His Dy CM perhaps is more candid and truthful when he openly admits that when cases of departmental corruption are exposed, this MDA Govt will continue to tolerate sleaze, continue to shield the minister involved and sacrifice instead the lowest available technocrat or bureaucrat available. According to him “No probe” is needed into the scam but the officers involved will be punished. No mention of course is made of the threat, the intimidation and the menace officers face when they refuse to concede to the criminal demands made by criminal minded ministers involved in such scams.
Then on Sunday May 22, 2022 the serene peace of a Sunday morning was shattered by social media posts with pictures of the collapse of the central dome of the yet to be inaugurated Legislative Assembly building at Mawdiang-diang. Dear God, Heaven help us when the State of Meghalaya celebrates its 50th anniversary with vanishing blacktopped roads, broken bridges, scandalously conducted State Olympic games, questionable State bus terminals and now a collapsed Assembly building. It only demonstrates one and one thing only, that the people we have elected to power to govern Meghalaya are not fit to rule. That unfortunately is the only reality that exists. Yet are our politicians and political parties concerned? Not if we see their reactions to all that is happening around us. They are still occupied with the question, “Who will come to power next?” That is all they know and talk about.
To the public it is now clear that the champion of the Regional Parties the UDP is as corrupt, as self-centered and as egoistic as any other party. Under whose watch was the New Assembly building constructed? Is it not under the present Speaker’s supervision? The UDP President to be exact. Who monitored the work of the contractor? Was it not an engineer of the PWD, who has joined the NPP and is now thinking of contesting from North Shillong constituency? Thieves and scoundrels, all of them. They need to be chased out of town the whole lot of them. I hope the electorate of the state wake up to the looting and plundering the people are subjected to from MLAs who come to buy their votes, not earn them. This how they repay you after they have purchased your Right. Sad to say but we deserve the leaders we get.
On widespread corruption
While referring to the commentary on the Shillong Times ‘ Editor’s interview of Mr. Ardent Basaiawmoit titled ” A Timely Interview and a Meaningful One,” by W. Passah (ST May 21, 2022), I must admit that corruption fatigue has seeped deep into me after having read and seen the destructive outcomes of corruption in the form of collapsed buildings, bridges, roads washed away after the first monsoon showers, all newly constructed. Although I am left almost dumbstruck and speechless by the scale of corruption, I still have a few words to say on this. There’s no denying that people have accepted corruption as a legitimate way of life and hence we do not hear vociferous dissenting voices against corruption and therefore corruption is bound to continue and increase because like sheep who are greedy for a few grains of salt, we are definitely going to vote for the same type of corrupt people. On this, I am reminded of the saying by Edward R. Murrow, “A Nation of Sheep will always have a Government of Wolves.”
In our state, the Wolves don’t even bother to wear sheep’s clothing anymore because they know that we, the sheep are as corrupt as they are and that we are going to cheaply sell our souls. Sadly, this is happening when our state is being led by some highly educated people. On this , a quote from Theodore Roosevelt seems appropriate, “A man who has never gone to school may steal a freight car; but if he has a university education, he may steal the whole railroad.”
But Meghalaya is a unique case in that both types of leaders – the educated and uneducated have managed to steal entire roads, bridges and buildings from us.
The church is supposed to be our moral guide but it is clear that it has lost its moral compass many years ago. The three churches which accepted blood money ( many poor labourers have lost their lives in rat hole mining) are invited to revisit the following Bible Verse, “Not everyone who says to me ‘ Lord, Lord’ shall enter the Kingdom of Heaven, but he who does the will of my Father in Heaven.”( Matthew 7:21). Surely, those who accept blood money are not exactly doing the will of the Heavenly Father.
Lastly, I would like to say that the formation of the Voice of the People Party came as a breath of fresh air . However, Mr Ardent Basaiawmoit will have to swim against a very strong tide to reach the shores and fight a hard battle to establish a beachhead on Corruption land. I hope he succeeds.
Shillong – 2.