Morung Express News
Mokokchung | February 24
Didi’s tiny restaurant near the Imkongmeren Sports Complex in Mokokchung town is packed from morning till seven in the evening. On normal days, Didi makes a maximum 15 plates of momo but since election campaigns began, she has been making 30-40 plates of momo per day.
Like Didi, almost everyone running businesses in Mokokchung are profiting from the 2018 general elections in Nagaland—the economy is suddenly cash rich. And the topic of discussion at every gathering is ‘elections.’
“Elections are all about money, power and lots more money,” says Akang, an economics major student of Jubilee Memorial College. He cites the example of how money from candidates of different constituencies is flowing into the Mokokchung town market.
Temjen has directly benefitted from this. He owns a mobile store in Mokokchung town whose sales have sky rocketed in February. On normal days, Temjen’s store earns a maximum of one lakh rupees in a day. However, in the month of February, he earned a profit of almost Rs. 3 lakhs per day! Another mobile store in the town sells 10-15 handsets per day which increased by the end of January; on a normal day, the store sells a maximum of 5 handsets.
Temjen is of the opinion that people have become mobile literate in the last five years and given the easy cash in hand, mobile phone sales have tripled this election season.
A stationary shop owner says that the sale of envelopes and papers has been beyond margin the last few weeks, adding that the only item being sold in bulk are A4 sized papers and brown envelopes.
The profit and sale margin has also increased for wholesale dealers in rice, packaged drinking water and tobacco products. An owner of a small pan shop in one of the wards in Mokokchung town notes that ever since the election campaigns began, most of his customers, who normally buy pan for 20 rupees and a ‘shankha biri,’ are now buying pan for 50-100 rupees and a Goldflake rather than the normal bidi!
Most of the customers splurging money are youth aged 30-40 years. “Most of my customers are youngsters from villages and other nearby towns,” informs Temjen, hoping that election campaigns never end!
According to a study conducted by the YouthNet, during the 2013 Nagaland general elections, candidates spent Rs. 230.60 crore in Mokokchung district, the highest amount spent among the districts in Nagaland. Mokokchung district also sees the highest levels of violence during elections.
However, not all are on the same board. “Elections this year seem a little cold comparing to the last election,” laments Lanu, a garment shop owner. “The sale margin as compared to last election is only 30-40% and I feel the clean election campaign is having some effect on the people,” she adds. Few other garment shop owners in the MMC shopping complex were of the same opinion that the “election money” was not hitting their stores like previous elections.
Buyer allegiance in Mokokchung district may have shifted from clothing to electronics but money continues to determine the fate of Indian elections in Nagaland.