Flights Of Fantasy
[ M Panging Pao ]
With elections approaching in the next few months, a flurry of activities has started across the state. For a state with numerous tribes, races and religions, there is a sudden increase in clan meetings, clan picnics, social gatherings and village picnics. There are picnics for clan jijajis, clan daughters, etc. New social coalitions are cobbled together to collect voters in one group, and previously stagnant social groupings are reignited to accumulate like-minded voters.
Potential candidates put up calendars and posters in different parts of the capital and other townships. Posters bearing the photos of well-attired potential candidates adorn the walls of many dhabas and eateries along highways. There are even posters announcing the candidature of potential MLAs much before the major parties declare their lists of candidates.
Potential candidates start touring remote villages to meet voters and request for their costly votes. The core management teams start mobilizing voters with frequent parties. Vehicles and buses are hired to bring supporters to these events. The residences of potential candidates start resembling big hotels or resorts where food, tea, snacks and liquor flow nonstop. All potential candidates try their best to impress the local party leadership about their support base and therefore their claim to the official party ticket.
For the ruling party, there is a rush to announce popular schemes and sops before the election guidelines are implemented. The flurry of announcements includes schemes like jan sunwai sammelans, Sarkar Aapke Dwar camps, ‘Arunachal Rising’ campaign, etc. Schemes and policies initiated to aid common citizens like CMAAY and Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao are expedited and announced. All pending inaugurations of bridges, offices, infrastructures, etc, are expedited to impress the voters about the works in progress and the developmental projects.
Among all these election procedures is the perplexing rule about posting out civil administration officers away from their home districts. It may be conjectured that this step is taken to prevent them from influencing voters. However, this rule does not apply to engineers, doctors and officers from other branches. Maybe the election commission has data that officers from other branches do not influence voters in their home districts, unlike civil administration officers!
Political discussions and groupings dominate many towns and even rural villages. These days even village youths are politically well informed. Many of them are not well educated but know and talk about Modi, Rahul and Rafale. In one of these discussions it was overheard that the going rate of expenditure for a MLA is about Rs 10 crore. With very less voters in our constituencies, where there are averages of 10000 to 12000 voters, many candidates attempt to win elections by simply buying off voters. Buying off voters in other constituencies of the country may not be possible due to the large populations, comprising 1.5 to 2 lakh voters. When a candidate can win elections by getting just 2500 voters, why not just buy them out? Are Arunachalee voters ready to sell their votes to the highest bidders?
(The contributor is retired Group Captain, Indian Air Force)