The election is in the air; every person and family is discussing politics these days. Politics is an important subject of discussion in the tribal societies like ours, as the outcome affects every one of us directly. The social solidarity in our societies have always been strong and the concept of mechanical solidarity is overarching. This can be regarded as one of the most positive aspects of a small tribal society.
However, within the modern democratic framework, solidarity among particular clans and sub-clans create some problems, because our society is divided into various sub-tribes and clans. Though the concept of the modern election has not affected the clan-solidarity, however, it affects the larger solidarity among the different tribes. Though the society looks homogenously organised when looked from distant, it is heterogeneously divided, when observed closely. One of the most prominent issues in such a scenario is the emergence of the local narrative ‘Your’ versus ‘My’ candidate. Sadly, the political process becomes the regular process of avowed jousting against each other.
Though such scenarios are experienced in many parts of the country, Arunachal is a peculiar case as the population is considerably low and individuals tend to know each other’s preference. Hence, the word ‘secret’ under the provision of the secret ballot is usually redundant; by doing simple permutation and combination it can be easily guessed who did or didn’t voted for the candidate. To add, an individual of a particular tribe or clan gets automatically attached or linked to the particular candidate, and it is regarded as blasphemy if one tries to drift away or have a difference of opinion against the group.
So, the choices are ostensibly ascribed on the basis of birth- liken to a caste system.
More interestingly, if one’s candidate (one he is ascribed to) loses in the election, is tantamount to the individual losing the right to equally participate and to get engaged in the developmental process. One virtually loses the right to criticise and ask a question; he/she will be sharply taunted by the ruling candidates by saying, ‘’you didn’t vote our candidate”. In many parts of the region, it is seen that the areas are left underdeveloped from where the elected candidates get less vote- a corollary of the ‘Your and my’ narrative.
Thus, the candidate’s fear of losing the election turns into every individual’s fear who are supporting the candidate. This results in the further perpetuation of the narratives of ‘your’ and ‘mine’. The pertinent question here is, whether it is right in the part of the elected representative to be selective or be partial in their approach? No. The representative is mandated to represent the populace of the entire constituency without discrimination and biases. Any biases would not augur well for the democratic ethos of the state, it is hazardous for one’s political freedom and would set wrong and disastrous precedents. As Hannah ardent has rightly said humans are ‘Zoon-Politikon’ and Political participation is the most important aspect of human life; equal participation without fear must be ensured.
I would be healthy for our society if our elected representative could come out of the hangover of ‘my voters’ and non-voters’ narrative. The people on their part should come out of ‘your’ vs ‘my candidate’ syndrome. There will always be a loser and a winner wherever there is a competition, also, the perspectives and choice of every individual would be different. The diversity of thoughts, the pluralism of ideas and choice is what makes democracy looks beautiful like a colourful kaleidoscope. If we look at the process through the narrative of ‘yours and mine’ it would make us colour-blind and myopic.