Flights Of Fantasy
[ M Panging Pao ]
Post elections, the markets of the towns and villages of Arunachal Pradesh are buzzing with activity. It is almost as if a new festival, bigger than our traditional festivals, has swept across Arunachal. Suddenly, the buying power of common citizens has gone up.
One can spot villagers buying large numbers of clothes, blankets, utensils, chairs, cookers, refrigerators, washing machines, etc. One can spot many pickup trucks filled with these newly bought items being transported back to the villages. In fact, a dealer commented that he has run out of refrigerators, washing machines and TVs!
During the election season, there has been a multifold jump in the business of petrol pumps, liquor shops, grocery shops, digital printers, audio/video studios, and vehicle dealers. Petrol pumps witnessed unending lines of two-wheelers, and vehicles filling up tanks with ‘coupons’ from different candidates. Though ‘dry days’ and early closures were enforced by social organisations and administrations, thousands of cases of IMFL and beer were procured by different candidates.
The grocery stores saw huge sales of rice, dal, potatoes, oil, etc, due to candidates feeding thousands of volunteers and supporters every day during the election period. In fact, there was no pork available in the market of many towns.
Digital printers remained busy printing thousands of pamphlets, posters and flex banners. Banks also witnessed a jump in the cash flow and banking activity. One banker commented that a few bank branches ran out of liquid cash during the election season.
The towns are witnessing traffic jams due to the increase in the number of vehicles during the election season. Candidates from Arunachal hired all available vehicles from nearby Assam for campaigning. In fact, many key supporters and mobilizers were rewarded with new Scorpios, Boleros, tractors, etc.
There is also a sudden increase in the number of Royal Enfield motorcycles and scooters supplied by the candidates. Many vehicle dealers are seeing multifold jump in vehicle sales.
As per election analysts and reports, many voters in Arunachal have earned large amounts of money and material things, amounting to about Rs 40,000-50,000 during the election season. In constituencies with lesser voters, voters are reported to have earned even more.
The analysts also commented that there would be indirect spin-offs as a result of this money flow. There would be shortage of local labourers for at least another month and work would suffer. Since these huge amounts of money have been spent, the winning candidates will recover the spent amount; as a result, developmental projects in the state would suffer or slow down.
Another election expert had the parting words. These huge amounts were public money in the first place. This is an oxymoronic justice that the public money has gone back to the public. Point to ponder: Is this election story a tragedy or a comedy? (The contributor is retired Group Captain, Indian Air Force)