Monday, May 27, 2024

Election sound and fury climaxes


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At no time in the past have two political parties been at each other’s throats as this time. While there are four political parties in the fray and one Independent candidate. The Congress campaign was largely subdued. The UDP candidate contesting under the RDA alliance also was not much heard. This time around candidates seem to rely a lot on social media messaging than on constituency visits as this takes a huge toll on candidates and their parties. In fact, political parties organised parallel meetings at several places and leaders spoke on behalf of the candidates who are probably speaking at another venue. Technology has taken us by storm but political parties still rely on the tried and tested public meetings where they mobilise volunteers and even transport them from different places as a show of strength. At every public meeting political parties boast of the physical presence of supporters they managed to garner. In most cases it is only the hardcore supporters of the party that would brave the night and cold and sit through hours of political bickering.
Judging by the sound and fury at every public meeting for the Shillong Parliamentary seat, it would seem that the fight is between the NPP and VPP. The Congress, UDP and Independent candidates had low key meetings that were relatively decent and refrained from name calling. The candidates explained their party position vis a vis the Lok Sabha election and what stances they would take if they are elected. All the parties however took a pot shot at the NPP for being the doppelganger of the BJP at a time when there was need to resist the attempt by the saffron party to consolidate its position to effect constitutional changes that are far reaching. The NPP is being taunted as the enabler for such a vile objective of the BJP. Further, the NPP had to counter allegations of corruption from its first tenure (2018-23) of running the state government. There were threats and counter threats of filing FIRs for disruption of public meetings by supporters of the VPP at meetings of the NPP at some venues. The VPP vehemently denied that the disruptors were its supporters.
In all there was a lot of sound and fury and what remains to be seen is whether the political parties are able to mobilise their supporters to come to the polling station. This time around there has been robust mobilisation of voters by the State Election Department. Chief Electoral Officer, BDR Tiwari has expressed hope that the voter turn-out would go up to 80% from 71.42% in 2019. It is commonplace for people in Meghalaya to drag their feet when it comes to the Lok Sabha election. Also, the only party that places much score on booth level mobilisation of voters is the BJP whose karyakartas make sure they bring voters to the polling booth. This level of dedication is lacking in other parties when in fact this is the critical part of an election. Herein lies the crucial point between winning and losing an election.

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