A question of conscience

[ Taba Ajum ]

With the voting day for the simultaneous Lok Sabha and assembly elections just a few days away, the political atmosphere in the state is heating up. There are talks that the candidates will spend massive amounts of money to buy voters in the last few days before voting takes place. The seizure of massive cash recently from the VVIP carcade carrying Chief Minister Pema Khandu from the Siang guesthouse in Pasighat has further stoked fear that the ruling party will throw money to win the elections at any cost.
It is unfortunate that whenever elections are near the people of the state forget about corruption and make beelines to sell their votes. Even educated people do not hesitate to ask for money in exchange for their votes, so much so that when a person declares that he/she will vote only for a good candidate and will not accept money, the campaigners and the candidates are shocked.
Though various NGOs and political parties have been pushing for corruption-free elections, money is still playing a critical role in deciding the fate of the upcoming elections. In certain districts, some voters are reportedly demanding vehicles and huge sums of cash from the candidates. Obviously, in such a situation, the ruling BJP, which has amassed a massive fund, has the edge over the opposition candidates.
Also, allegations of harassment of opposition candidates and their supporters, using the government machinery, have also poured in from several districts of the state. This is against the spirit of democracy. If the candidates have to spend crores of rupees to win elections, how can the voters expect them to carry out developmental works? After winning the election, they would first have to recover the money that they spent, and then earn enough to be battle-ready for the next elections. He or she will have no money left for developmental activities.
Further, the moment a voter sells his or her vote they lose the right to question the performance of their representative for the next five years. On a lighter note, they may have to create fake accounts on Facebook and Twitter to criticize their MLAs and MPs, having lost the moral right to do so openly.
Still, there is time for redemption. Those who truly wish to see their areas developed should resist the allure of money.
Why sell your votes for maybe ten, fifteen, thirty or fifty thousand rupees and then remain jobless for the next five years? Be a fearless voter, resist temptation, and vote for the candidates that you think truly deserve your vote. Rise above your clans, tribes and religions and elect the best candidates. Many will say it is easy for journalists like us to sit in an air-conditioned room in Itanagar and give sermons, but a beginning has to be made somewhere.
Arunachal Pradesh is going through a transition period, and the next five years is going to be very crucial for the future of our state. Every citizen is duty-bound to elect the best candidates, so that the future of the state is secured. It does not matter which parties the candidates belong to, but elect the ones that truly deserve to be your representatives in the assembly and the Lok Sabha. It’s over to you, the voters of Arunachal Pradesh.