Elections. How Exciting!

Imlisanen Jamir

 

It’s all so exciting isn’t it?

 

Just 12 hours after the Election Commission of India announced dates for polls to the Nagaland Legislative Assembly, the considerations that dominated conversations over the past year seemed to fizzle out quickly.

 

Quite a few people I know have suddenly vanished to those camps that we here all love so much—granted the camps haven’t been set up yet; still the process has started.

 

The past year, and specifically the past few months in Nagaland, witnessed conversations that suggested a hopeful change in attitudes to politics—both amongst the public, civil society and at least on the surface, the political structure.

 

There was a massive campaign to push for positive changes in electoral practices amongst the state’s citizens; an apparent consensus among most political parties to put the well-being of the Naga issue before personal interests; and more recently a very public call by several civil society organisations to the same effect. The latter two going to the extent of demanding a postponement of polls till a ‘solution’ to the Naga political issue is arrived at.

 

Now, I’m not discounting the fact that the campaign for ethical voting did effect positive changes in several quarters. Also, there are still sections of civil society firm on the call for solution before election.

 

Arguments for and critical of these undertakings have their own merits. The general impression created from all this though, was of a polity that was perhaps growing aware of what actually mattered.

 

Oh how we were deceived!

 

On the ground, all it took was one notice announcing the poll dates, and most of the aforesaid grandiose posturing turned out to be nothing but that.

 

The appetite with which all the political parties and most people embraced the ‘election spirit,’ and the feeble tones of many from civil society on their previous statements, point to a sickness that has always plagued us as a people.

 

We have never really developed an appreciation of what elections actually denote. The significance of having developed a political system that enables each individual to be an equal participant in shaping their future is lost upon us.

 

Granted that these tenets come from a political ethos that at least in the beginning was extraneous to us as Nagas. But, it’s not too arduous a thought to supplicate that we might have by now developed a grasp of its positive values.

 

But Nagaland has sadly been a place where the true meaning of democracy has struggled to take root.

 

All the outward excitement, pomp, gaiety, revelry, rhetoric and twaddle that is to follow over the course of the next month, will be nothing more than an insult to the remarkable ideals that this event is supposed to signify.

 

And given the terrible first responses that we have seen from ourselves, there doesn’t seem to be much that can be done to change that.

 

Comments can be sent to imlisanenjamir@gmail.com