Reorienting Politics

While elections should be a time of talking about the important issues of the day through serious discussions and debate among the candidates, here in our so called democracy we have come to use election time for all other unwanted things starting from buying and selling of votes, use of modhu and muscle power, making personal attacks on each other and not to forget creating bitterness and enmity across political, tribal, social and even religious divide. The so called re-entry of former Chief Minister and Governor SC Jamir into State politics by way of contesting for the coming bye-election is already throwing up personal acrimony between leaders and parties. After many elections and experience of the past, we are yet to learn the true essence of democracy—civility, political consciousness and vigilance. Yes by nature, election involves parties or candidates contesting against each other. There will be only one winner and therefore the stakes may be high. However the best man ought to win based on his innate ability and leadership quality. Here in Nagaland it is not always the best person but the one who can spend more who wins.
As we look to another bye-election slated for May 7, 2011, we need to focus not on money or muscle power but on issues. Let candidates share their manifesto to the public. Civil society can take the initiative in coming out with a kind of platform where the intending candidates can talk about their plan for the people. Besides, questions can be asked to the candidates by the audience. Atleast to some extent, this will create the right atmosphere for conducting free and fair election. Political consciousness of the public is important so that they are aware about whom they will vote for (i.e. if they are allowed to vote at all!) This column has been making known the desire of well meaning people towards free and fair elections. While we may claim to have democratic elections every five years to elect our leaders, we need to take a relook at the quality of this process. Campaigning and electioneering should be peaceful, civilized and the important issues facing people should be the focal point. Our elections are about threats and intimidation and creating fear psychosis among ordinary voters.
We need to reorient our politics towards communicating or reaching out to voters through persuasion and educating them on issues and other party manifesto. While no doubt power is the objective of elections, nevertheless the means to get there should be based on honest discussion about issues, common programmes, respecting people’s verdict and offcourse making sure that people are allowed to vote. For the Naga public, political parties and our politicians, let us work together to ensure that our elections of the future will be much more free, fair, mature and peaceful without the resort to force, money or wine power. Bertrand Russell once said that Democracy in order to be effective must measure its success in a distinctive way and judge itself by the character, achievement of the men and women who build it up and also the quality of lives they lead. If democracy is to remain genuine then there needs to be a high standard of honesty and moral soundness. We need to reorient our politics towards a moral based system.