‘Vote for clean election’ reads a placard placed in Mokokchung town. (Morung Photo)
Vishü Rita Krocha
Kohima | March 26
The lack of any good example of a politician or reference for a voter has had adverse effects on the very system of electoral process in the Naga society. A concerned citizen who chose to remain anonymous felt that people are also not aware of their democratic rights while politicians also seem to be outside the law.
“A common person does not feel that their voice is very powerful,” he maintained just as “we never had any good examples or politician because it’s more of a moral duty or an ethical thing. There is no reference for a voter.” Pointing out that when you are rich, you don't feel a sense of status with purpose, he illustrated that sometimes they simply decide to contest and declare they would work for the people if they win, without any deep thinking but just as a ‘good will’ while on the other hand, people have misunderstood the whole process of leadership.
If you consider our political situation, he went on to state that not many elected leaders are even aware what decision to take. “We are intellectually not equipped nor are there intellectuals covering our Naga story. So even voters not aware whether they are voting for solution or voting for a democracy,” he put across.
At the helm of affairs, he underlined that “if you really desire, in that 5 years you can really do some ground-breaking work but for that to happen, you should not consider winning the next election.” The motive, he reiterated should never be to win the next election but that the politician should do it with a pure heart.
“Whether you are going to win the next election should purely come from the people. It should move people so much that they will pour all their finances and resources to help you win. If that level of thing comes then we can say that that we have a clean candidate. When the community itself come forward in that manner, that will be a day when someone has done so much of work for the constituency that for the next election, it should be just outpouring of gratitude from the people.”
Majority of voters in Nagaland only looking for economic security
Barring 20-30% of the creamy layer in the state, everyone has got financial problem according to the concerned citizen. In this context, while ‘democracy’ has been propagated in India as a vote of the majority, he articulated that, “so, if the majority has got financial problem, they are going to vote for money.”
Implying that if the majority is economically strong, he underscored that “they are going to vote on the basis of some other issue.” However, right now, he reiterated that “either directly or indirectly, everybody is going to vote for someone who will bring economic prosperity to all of them.”
In a scenario where Nagas have such high standard and show-off culture and attitude, and always short of money,” he observed that there is only one agenda for the candidate. “It is only us saying, by development; we mean give us pocket money. We are only looking for economic security. We are not looking for jobs, we are not looking for work or production, we just immediately need the economic security. When we require that unless that is solved, we cannot just tell people, don't take money,” he maintained.
The reason why the state has opposition-less government, he cited is also because nobody can afford to be in the opposition after spending so much during the electoral process. “It is not something so divine that you are a politician,” he further added.
‘Clean Election would also translate into violation of Article 371A’
For the majority populace in villages all over Nagaland, it is the village council, in their collective wisdom, that decides which candidate to vote for. In this context, the anonymous citizen felt that “the Naga customary law also holds good.
When you apply those principles and customary norms into play, we cannot really propagate clean election because those are the orders of the day. So, it requires a lot of study.”
He went on to say that Clean Election would also translate into violation of Article 371A while indicating that “there are a lot of multiple factors that need to be studied and we can always come to a middle point where at a certain point of time, ensure free and fair election.”
However, he also maintained that the term ‘Clean Candidate’ itself is not right while putting across that “clean candidate sounds too much like a church way of defining who's good and who’s bad.”
In Nagaland, he also observed that “to be a good politician, it is not just merely good people because you have experienced that a person can be very good and sit for 5 years and do nothing.” Sometimes, he stated that “a greedy person can be more helpful because in the process, while wanting something for his own namesake, he still gets something done.”
But he also strongly maintained that “if a society just improves its education in the real sense, then we can start questioning ourselves.” In the Naga society, he stated belief that “it will definitely start with the writing, it will start with the people reading and writing and learning to reflect and training up their criticisms.”
While there is no society in the world that has understood everything, he however exuded hope that “if we use this education aggressively, maybe at a certain point of time, before that knee-jerk reaction hits us, we will be able to stir up in the right direction.” And towards this end, he said Clean Election is a good starting point “because it allows us to pick on a lot of issues using this as a topic.”
Clean Election Movement, a soul saving initiative
For a government official who did not wish to be named, “the Clean Election Movement is a soul saving initiative of the Nagaland Baptist Church Council (NBCC) cutting across all isms” especially in the context of a predominantly Christian state like Nagaland.
“It is imperative that its wheels continue to roll - flounder or falter”, he put across while substantiating that it is “soul saving” because “it impacts the core of our existence as a Christian state/nation.” Pointing out that our whole Naga socio-political and economic edifice is crumbling due to the adverse electoral practices in the state, the government official also maintained that “for it to be cleansed, our souls have to be also.”
In this connection, he said there cannot be a more appropriate body or entity than the NBCC but however felt that “for it to gain greater efficacy and relevance, the movement cannot but be a once in five years affair only.” The process, he asserted, “must be continuous and unrelenting during the next 5 years till the next round of elections.”
Emphasizing that it must take advantage of the inbuilt strength of our civil and social forums and continue the discourse from the lowest level at the grassroots, he pointed out that, “the rot has set in and it will be a herculean task to stem it. Mindset and attitudes have to be moulded afresh.”
Towards this end, he expressed that the church and its leaders have to be ready to walk the extra mile. “For which, it has to firstly shed off its leanings and dependence on those in power and portray itself in the role of that biblical shepherd whose embraces are comforting and not of an authority sent from above,” he added.
The government official further suggested creating a cell in the NBCC to study and conduct a research on the Election Laws. Automatically, he explained, “our flaws and malpractices would emerge and based on the findings, CEM should move out to their 'field' and disseminate, sensitise, teach with facts and figures and with purpose and intent” while pointing out that “mere preaching and protest marches have not cut much ice all these years.”