Can the 2023 polls bring Political Accountability?

February 27, 2023 signals the end of another 5-year cycle. People will vote in state elections where candidates will contest for the Nagaland Legislative Assembly. 

Will the culture of power politics once again drown the citizens’ voices? 

In places like Nagaland where systemic and structural corruption is deeply embedded, the level of corrupt practices is so blatant that the public feel powerless and have become resigned to coexist with them. As a result, corruption stifles the dynamic character of the social discourse, while its interplay with power-over and impunity drive the entire electoral process. Under these challenging circumstances, questions by ordinary citizens are silenced as issues of accountability and transparency are swept aside and electioneering is reduced to a game of power politics. 

This practice needs to be challenged and transformed in order for the social and political discourse to focus on the rule of law through accountability and transparency.  

This is a timely period to promote transparency and accountability as the foundation for good governance. The impending state elections are an opportunity for people who are concerned by the corrupt nature of elections driven by power and money to initiate a process that creates awareness and empowers citizens to focus on areas of vital concern to the public. The Naga quality of life would be improved by systemic and quality changes in many areas including: healthcare, education, development, environment, basic infrastructures, livelihood, and good governance.

The dynamic character of democracy relies on an evolving critical consciousness by the people to scrutinize and assess their legislators’ performance based on facts and evidence. This would, in turn, help increase the accountability and transparency of Nagaland State Government officials. Expanding the democratic space in Nagaland guided by ethical principles of transparency and accountability, inclusive representation and participation, trusting relationships, a power sharing partnership culture and more, are essential for fully functioning good governance to operate.   

In this way, citizens will be able to make informed decisions concerning electing representatives that will honour the public interest of their constituency. Such a process can help strengthen democracy in Nagaland by creating a transparent and accountable power-sharing culture of good governance and life-giving values through people’s participation. 

Both incumbents and those newly elected to office are responsible to honor and implement these ethical principles in order to ensure good governance. Citizens need to understand the role of their representatives and monitor their progress to ensure implementation of their campaign promises. This is only possible when citizens are given equal and open access to public information that allows them to assess the performance of their elected representatives.

Democracy is enabling when citizens are empowered to make informed choices and elect representatives that effectively and appropriately respond to the peoples’ needs as elected public leaders. In this crucial time leading up to the state election which takes place every five years when citizens can elect representatives, they must meaningfully hold their representative accountable based on evaluating their performance and whether they have honestly delivered on their promises.