Politicking during a pandemic

Imlisanen Jamir

A crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic gives the leading lights of society, including the political class, a chance to redeem themselves. The pandemic presented our politicians a great opportunity to reinvent themselves as responsible, empathetic leaders dedicated to the service of the people.

However, ever since the outbreak of the pandemic and it reaching Nagaland State, like in the rest of the country, a political slugfest has continued at every level of political hierarchy, as if all is well and normal.

When priority should be relief, rehabilitation and unified efforts to strengthen the health system, our political representatives have been openly trading charges.

All parties in the State, from the ruling dispensation to the opposition, have been busy sending out press statements and counter statements, blaming each other and recounting old political grudges. After about a thousand words or so of politicking and bickering, they provide a paragraph or so calling upon the people to ‘come together,’ ‘unite,’ ‘stand together’.

These developments indicate that there is hardly any scope of constructive criticism and spirit of co-operation during a pandemic. With how government incompetence has been exposed during this pandemic, the ruling dispensation has grown increasingly defiant in its defence. On the other hand, the opposition seems happy to be unhappy.

All this is made easier with the awareness that a pandemic like Coronavirus has restricted political space and actual democratic participation.

Therein lies the crux of the matter and a bit of real-politick. Truth of the matter is that for a majority of the political class, the COVID-19 pandemic is ‘one of those things’ to settle scores and play political games. But ask any public health policy expert, it is far too serious a crisis to be left to the political players.

But we need to point out that this kind of bickering must sound tragic to the ears of people who are suffering. The attitude and mentality of the political class across party lines is further eroding the prestige of ‘the politician’. It is high time the political class realises that they are hastening the demise of their own esteem, if they had any to begin with.

While political parties attract the most attention in these blame games, the same has been happening with many other institutions that claim to be representatives of people. Politicking has reached such levels that the people are now pitched in online battles.

All this while the administrators, police, health workers and volunteers are fighting insurmountable challenges to contain this pandemic and the sick or quarantined are faced with uncertainty.

So if you want us to stand together and be united, then lead by example.

Comments can be sent to imlisanenjamir@gmail.com

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