Democracy & Change

Friday the 13th occurs when the thirteenth day of a month falls on a Friday, which superstition holds to be a day of bad luck. However if it does bring bad luck to some, by the same measure it should be a lucky and victorious day for many others. Coincidently, May 13, 2011 (Friday) was the day when results of the State elections held across India including the 26 Aonglenden bye-polls were declared. In any election, there will be winners and there will be losers. Winning and losing is therefore part of the political game. Those countless of winners deserve their place in history. They will now be called to shoulder the responsibility of representing the cause and wishes of the people. How well they use the opportunity bestowed upon them will be an important factor not only for their own leadership but also when the time comes for the next election. For the losers, it is time to introspect and try to learn from the election outcome.
Having said that, one of the concerns is how credible is it to win elections in an imperfect democracy like India. Are elections truly free and fair? Therefore winning election is one thing but the authenticity or credibility of the process is doubtful given the imperfect nature of our democratic exercise. Many times in our lives especially when politics is involved, we believe in the mantra of “ends justifies the means”. As long as we reach our goals (especially of winning), we give a damn to the means or process by which we get there.  Elections in India including Nagaland require an overhaul so that we can start to correct the failures of the current system and processes. We need a system where no candidate is put at an advantage or disadvantage. A level playing field is needed so that the best person or party can win based not on money or muscle power but on manifestos, programmes, ideology, visions and leadership.
Coming to the Assembly poll verdict in all the five States, we can say that democracy has triumphed. Thirty four years of communist rule has ended in Bengal and people have voted overwhelmingly in favour of change. Similarly in Tamil Nadu, the decade old government of DMK has been voted out. Here again, it is people’s power which has made this change possible. In Assam, many people will be surprised at the re-election of the Congress under Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi given the corruption charges and also Gogoi was seeking a third term . But against all odds the Congress has been voted back for a record third term. You can never know in politics, anything could happen as in the case of former Governor and Chief Minister SC Jamir who lost in a bye-poll.
The latest poll exercise only reinforces the supreme will of people in a democracy. And no matter how imperfect it may be, democracy ensures that the voice and grievances of people are heard. Then the other good thing is that the vent up anger of people against politician, party or government is channelized through the democratic exercise of voting and ensuring peaceful transition of power or change as desired by the people. All we need now is to correct the ills dogging our election system. If we can do this, democracy as a system and way of life is bound to improve.