Sunday, May 19, 2024

Needed a questioning electorate


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A leading journalist of long standing, when asked at a media conclave in New Delhi what the status of India today is, stated unflinchingly that it is a quasi-autocracy. This should ring alarm bells if people were not living in a delusionary world where noise overpowers reason. The very idea of an election campaign is faulty because it allows only a one-sided lecture with little space for questioning. There are myriad questions that demand answers, but candidates here have turned the entire campaign into a slanging match with the same old issues repeated ad nauseum. The jaitbynriew issue has gone overboard without politicians giving people the other side of the picture which is that if the BJP is re-elected, then the tribals and religious minorities would lose whatever rights they enjoy today.
People here have a right to know from the NPP-BJP common candidate as to what is the electoral bond scam and what impact it has had on the banking sector and the entire economy and corporate India as a whole. Why did some pharmaceutical companies manufacturing Covid vaccines donate so much by way of electoral bonds to the ruling party? What is the conflict of interest here? Meghalaya is not an island to be discussing only state-centric issues in a national election. Why is the issue of the Meghalaya Urban Development Authority (MUDA) being raked up in a national election when it should have been taken up in the Assembly which is the proper forum? This attempt to mislead voters who are considered gullible enough to swallow hook line and sinker whatever is being touted at election platforms is an old stratagem. But it is allowed to continue because those who can question do not attend election meetings because those are considered a waste of time. Also there is no civil society that takes upon itself the task of explaining the purpose of the Lok Sabha election to the hoi-polloi.
Meghalaya is now in its 52nd year but it appears that the electorate is just as ill-informed as it was a half century ago when songs and noise were what captured the imagination of the people even while reason and logic were temporarily switched off. Reason and logic return after the elections when the promises made are broken every single day and people realise there is a conspiracy to keep them disempowered by pushing their kids to drop out of school due to poverty or the absence of schools closer to the villages. A disempowered, poor and illiterate electorate is an asset for politicians. They are the ones who succumb to the lure of money for votes. And this appears to be the trajectory that Meghalaya is following every election. An empowered electorate would have asked why poverty has shot up; why children are dropping out of school and why the state of education is in a shambles. But why would politicians want an informed, questioning, educated, rational electorate? They would not be able to sell their silly, vacuous, holier than thou rhetoric then! Frankly, elections only reveal the pathetic state of affairs in Meghalaya.


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