The man in the neighbourhood

Vishü Rita Krocha

The announcement of the 2018 Assembly Elections in Nagaland, although marred by uncertainty and confusion, has long created excitement. More than ever, men gather to talk politics now. The common man in the street, passengers in a public transport, families and friends either at home or outside, folks in the village, and everywhere else, politics reign.

 

Talks have lingered over the holidays. Intending Candidates visiting homes, people, places, all over again. This has become an accepted tradition. Their presences are more seen and heard now than any other time of the year or rest of the five, dull years. Amazing how the ensuing elections can change everything, overnight. There is so much care and concern all of a sudden. Interestingly, everybody, or most people anyway, have become a sensitive lot- What did I gain in the last five years by voting for him? What did he do for me and my family? What job did he provide for me or my loved ones?

 

These are questions that are doing the rounds once again. Mostly things you have let go in the last few years. They emerge now and play in your mind, only getting louder as election approaches. I know of a man in the neighbourhood who was still weighing options just a few weeks back and then went on to say, “I will probably vote for the candidate who approaches me first” literally meaning “whoever gives me money first will have my vote.” Last I heard, a group of them met this candidate, were apparently given a certain amount of money- which, when split among them is nothing really. But trust me, he seemed content, and his vote is probably going to that candidate who conveniently and easily shelled out some mere thousand bucks. For a few more votes.

 

It is beyond me to understand the logic behind the satisfaction he got out of it. But then again, it hardly comes as a surprise. We have built that culture. And sadly, we have also accepted it. I also know of those who wait for the general elections with such enthusiasm only because there is so much money (and liquor) involved. “Election is the only time we can earn some money”, I’d heard of people in the villages say. And most often, elections revolves around jobs, lump sum money (for children’s admissions, family’s illnesses, personal travel allowances or even buying a new car maybe, this fee, that fee, etc etc.)

 

Sad, isn’t it? When elections become this. When it only means personal gains and personal favours. I, me, myself, my family, my everything, but never the society, the people, the common good. At this rate, we are headed nowhere. And after all is said and done, we will come back to the same place, still disappointed and frustrated over bad roads, shortage of water, power, and the most basic things with little space for growth otherwise.