Allen Imsong: Every day we read and talk about the weak points of Ministers/MLAs. But today I’m going to talk about our weak points – Public. Since this is about us only, it may sound lopsided for sure. I’ll talk about them on some other day. But this article is about us. I will not talk about alcohol, youth camps, parties, fighting, booth-capturing, proxy etc. This is about “money-game”. And please note, I am not writing this based on newspaper/FB or any social media reports but on personal experience and encounters. Things I have seen and gone through.
When I first heard about Clean Election Campaign (CEC), I dropped my head in shame! Lord, after Prohibition Act, this again? Are these necessary in a state which the world knows as a Christian State? Nagaland for Christ? Do we need these laws/campaigns to control us? As you ponder on this deep spiritual/moral question, let me dig the basic roots of the very social evil which I see and feel as the bedrock of expensive elections, dirty money politics and corruption in Nagaland which never ends.
1. The slogan is don’t sell your vote:
Have you ever asked why “don’t sell”? To begin with, are you that cheap so as to allow someone to come and buy you? But another question is: Why does it become necessary to buy vote? Do they (candidates) come first or you go first? Honestly speaking I don’t think the candidates have more to be blamed here. They may have started the game long ago, but at this point, it is us. In the first place, why do we select and approach people with money (mostly bureaucrats) to contest election? Don’t we have any one among us with brains to rule the land other than people with money? Come election, groups of all kinds will start demanding money in return for votes. And the worst part is people go to every candidate. And since they have taken money from all of them, the family members divide and cast votes.
2. Demand for govt. Jobs in return for vote:
The objective of every candidate is to get elected. Hence, he is open to all options. Who will not? So when a person or a “Khandan” come offering their votes in return for jobs, he agrees even knowingly that it is hard to fulfill. Therefore, I am not saying that this is the only reason but is one of the main roots of “Backdoor Appointment”. Tell me honestly, which Minister/MLA has ever forced or threatened you saying if you don’t take this government job NOHOBO! MARIBO??? In fact, it is us who threaten them for the same. Sometimes I used to think do we elect our MLAs just for “job appointments” and “transfers and postings”? Sorry, we have demeaned and demoted the most respected office to that level.
3. Menace of donations:
We say expensive elections. Yes. But it is just the beginning. The money game continues the whole term. We say jokingly that Nagaland is a LAND of UNIONS. I am not saying that all the unions/societies are unnecessary. But here is my point: There are thousands of unions/societies in Nagaland. And all these unions celebrate JUBILEES. As a matter of fact, these days our people can’t wait for 25 years!!! Now we have 5th anniversary, 10th anniversary and that anniversary. Really! And in all these, most people approach the Ministers/MLAs, and all want big money. Say Rs 1 lakh and above, and if they don’t, we call them all names: KANCHOOS! KI MINISTER!!! KI MLA!!! This is just an example. What about constructions of all sorts and missions??? What about lotteries, buffets, sales, and various donations?
4. Christmas time:
I can’t say whether this will be applicable to all of them or not but this menace bothers majority of them. We joke “On hearing Boney M. Christmas songs, PIGS in Nagaland tremble and cry.” Our MLAs and pigs are not different. In fact, the former dread this JOYOUS SEASON even more! We make them CHRISTMAS FATHER!! (begging for x-mas expenditure). In fact, this is the time we finally crucify them! We make them cry! Believe me. I know.
5. Other factors:
My friends, you may be thinking that they are living a great life! No! The only real good time (apart from holiday trip maybe) they have is “when they step out from their cars amidst salutes” during public programs. That’s it. The rest is hell. They have hardly any time to rest or eat peacefully. No time for quality time with family. Right from the wee hours till late night, we storm their residence and offices. Yes, it is their job but we are too extreme. And obviously, everyone goes to them for a favour or money. These non-stop visitors drain their pockets. Hence, they need to refill their pockets. Who will not? We also give them hardly any time to sit in office due to “Chief Guest” engagements. And everywhere they have to shell out donations because it is expected. The more one gives, the BIGGER we paint him. Thus, in one way we make them compete. We are very funny: While we talk against corruption, on the other hand (with the same lips), we make fun of those MLAs/Ministers who does not own an expensive car or palatial building!
6. One last word:
I had the privilege of personally knowing 2 former Cabinet Ministers very well. One refused to display the “name plate” in his official car or take around escorts (I am not saying that it is wrong to do so). Another one always insisted his driver not to overtake others during traffic even though we had to rush to office. Just examples. Friends, on contrary to what we may think, not all of them are corrupted or as bad as we assume. I am not saying that they are 100% clean. But who is? But I know there are God fearing leaders in public offices. Just because of some people, let us not condemn them altogether. If they are ROBBING public money, then it is us who compel them in the first place.
Well, as said always, let us change ourselves first. Don’t try to control your “villagers” or “tribesmen”. It does not work well with Nagas. It leads to more fight and enmities. But this is possible: Let each one of us teach, correct and control one’s family members and relatives. That we can do.