“Where are you going Bahdeng?” I asked a friend of mine who seemed excited and in a hurry. He said, “I got a new job, I’m in the business of collecting money”. Not sure and intrigued by the true nature of his new profession, I congratulated him and tried to get more details about it. He enthusiastically told me that I should join in, “It’s very profitable” he said, “Yesterday I told them my mother was sick, the other day I said my daughter was sick; you see, I’m in the business of collecting charity money from candidates contesting the upcoming elections and so far I’ve received Rs.10,000”. This is the startling result of the failure of democracy and justice in the Republic of India. For some people, this election is no more about upholding the pillars of democracy but a mere opportunity to earn easy cash. But how can we blame them for deceiving these candidates, when it’s a fact that these candidates are also in the business of deception.
It is a sad state of affairs that in contemporary politics it is extremely difficult for the people of the state to really choose real political leaders from the current pool of politicians in Meghalaya. With the advent of the use of money power in politics, logic has been shoved to the background, science is made up and facts don’t really matter anymore. It does not matter how much information is shared to the public about a dictatorial government or of freedom fading away or about the needs and deficiencies in the political realm of the state of Meghalaya, as the people are seen to have been brainwashed by the extreme advertising of political brands that are in fact lies. The masses are more inclined to vote for the most popular brand of ideology being advertised, at face value, rather than on practical ideas with concrete measures and policies for change and development.
The election season, is when the circus comes to town. Sources of entertainment appear galore. Scams incriminating politicians spice up the morning papers, schemes never even heard of, suddenly begin to be distributed among the masses by the beaming politicians. Foundation stones are even laid twice over, as is the case with Tura Medical College, but development is far from being realized. The eager politicians become the suppliers of domestic wares like blankets and utensils, just so they could get in the good books of the electorate. The usually invisible MLAs and MDCs who are always in the background during the Assembly Sessions, even pop up into existence and reintroduce themselves to the public eye. These politicians are the biggest purveyor of change, a rather vague and clichéd term, but change nonetheless. However, when asked about the kinds of policies they are willing to put in place to bring about this change, they are often found to be dumfounded or would instead give a vague and rhetorical elaboration on the importance of change. They speak of change, but thus far, for most of them, the only change they have brought about, are the changes of a metalled road into a dirt road, particularly, in the far flung areas of the state. Another bemusing trend is to see them mouth diatribes against corruption, but the freebies which they distribute among the electorate to win votes, are never bribes.
Below is a critical analysis of the parties contesting the election this year (2018):
Firstly, what is grand about the “Grand Old Party” in the state is the scale of the scandals it has courted. This grand party in Meghalaya bears resemblance more to a Hindi soap, than the state branch of a national party. Drama is never short with this party. News of infighting, coups, defections, tampering and so on, by members of this party continually greets the morning papers’ reader. However, even with little credibility left in them they are quick to point their crooked fingers at others. There’s not much worrying for the leaders of this party, even if most of them will probably be killed in this war, as this Grand Old Party may survive through their well known ingenuity of trading horses after a war.
Secondly, there is this one party which really fits the description of ‘wolf in sheep’s clothing’. It is a national party espousing nationalist elements as its core principles, but, to all the states that it has visited, it has used the garb of development to fool the masses. Its leader loves to speak from his heart, so much so, that his heart can no longer feel the plight of the common masses but can only speak. The cries of those dangerous burger-eaters victimized by the heroic vigilantes of orange Gotham, have on many occasions, fallen on the deaf ears of this party. It is so blinded by its patriotism for a certain colour that it fails to see the realities and beauty prevalent in a colour such as Indigo. Another trait of this party is its stark contrast to the Grand Old Party, this party usually buys and trade horses before a war rather than after a war and is most willing to give and feed the horses of the Grand Old Party’s enemies. This party seem to have created some beef and a sense of dislike with most minority groups in the country. But in Meghalaya, the real question for this party is “To beef or not to beef”.
Thirdly, perhaps the most single minded and visionless parties contesting the upcoming election are these parties. Over the years, they are yet to outgrow their xenophobic agenda. They are so afraid of Martians, Superman, Green Lantern; basically all those not from their world, that they do not even bother to think about anything else, but isolationist agendas like protecting themselves from aliens. These parties would point fingers at random directions, blaming anybody they can for the plight of their people. It is in fact very rare to find them ask themselves what they can do for their country and the people but has the audacity to demand everybody else to do something for their people. Of course protecting ones identity is important but it seems the matter of development, which is also equally important if their people are to survive, simply falls to the wayside with these parties.
The fourth party is quite a novelty, but was conceived by old forces. It came to existence because of one man’s lust for two women; this great man, so persuasive and staunch in his beliefs, was able to have his way, and do what most men want, to keep the wife as well as the mistress. His ability to hold on to both the women despite many suitors fighting for these women’s hand in marriage shot him to fame and glory. The leader of this party of novelty was able to consolidate his position and power even more when it was found out that, a handsome dowry in the form of a special assistance scheme had been gifted to him, as reward for holding on to his wife, despite the coexistence of the mistress, by the central government of a great country. This central government is controlled by wolves in sheep’s clothing, and it is very happy to pay this dowry so that, this great man with two lovers can engage in a beautiful but deadly duel with a dictator whom the wolfs in sheep’s clothing have found hard to defeat. This great man with two lovers will surely use this special assistance scheme for consolidating another relationship, this time with the people especially in the months preceding the elections.
Last but not the least; nothing matches the confusing and unpredictable weather pattern of Shillong better than the crux of this party. On the same day, it can be a national party, a regional party, tribal party and non-tribal party; depending on the platform and audience, before which it is campaigning. They put the chameleon to shame with their cloaking capabilities. Now, this is the veritable yes-party who sometimes go by the alias of ‘Super Sub’ or Chicharito (Manchester United’s Super Sub), but for their ingenuity in being somebody else’s substitute. It seems to be disillusioned by the belief that only the other party tells lies, that they have only hopeful agendas, that their policies will be rolling well and so on, but it is a fact that not everybody in their ranks are as valuable as a precious stone. Its eagerness to please everybody, however, is akin to a youngster, smitten with puppy love.
These are the characteristic traits of the Meghalaya Legislative Assembly elections, 2018. There is a surge of hyperactivity in every corner of the state and drama exists everywhere. Some people, however, are extremely skeptical of this surge of energy in the months preceding the elections. They are unsure whether this energy will be transformed into positive actions, or, will it simply wane out in the coming months. What is most unfortunate for the people of the state is the fact that they will have to be content with very limited choices, because in the two sides of the political spectrum of most constituencies; lies either an idiot or a dictator.