[ Taba Ajum ]
It’s been a month since the results of the simultaneous assembly and Lok Sabha elections were declared. The election this year had the makings of a typical Bollywood movie, with drama, emotion, comedy, violence, and so on. Money was flowing more rapidly in the state than the mighty Siang river. In certain constituencies, especially in the Nyishi belt, it is believed that crores of rupees were spent by the candidates – those who later won, as well as those who lost.
In the next five years the candidates who won will be busy earning to recover the investment they made, and also to get ready for the 2024 elections. The involvement of huge amounts of money led to major violence in districts like Kurung Kumey and Kra Daadi. Unfortunately, one person lost his life in election-related violence. Ironically, these two districts are considered to be among the most backward districts of the state.
The elections also witnessed the assassination of 11 people, including sitting MLA Tirong Aboh. The horrific killing sent shockwaves across the state. The police have yet to arrest anyone, and the investigation has now been taken over by the National Investigation Agency.
In the midst of the heightened tension, there was some comic relief when the hilarious private phone conversation between state BJP president Tapir Gao and an unidentified girl was unceremoniously leaked.
The elections also saw the end of the era for heavyweight politicians like Kumar Waii, Nabam Rebia, Takam Pario, Tamiyo Taga, and others. It also witnessed the stunning loss of Dr Mohesh Chai in Tezu. He was someone many had thought would be a major leader in the future.
Chief Minister Pema Khandu played a well-calculated political game by ensuring the defeat of the people whom he saw as threats to his chair. He personally worked hard to ensure the defeat of his nemeses Takam Pario and Kumar Waii. Also, within the BJP, there were leaders like Tamiyo Taga and former general secretary of the BJP, Jarpum Gamlin, whom he saw as threats. Now that the chief minister has got a team of his liking, he will have to deliver the promises he made to the people of the state. He cannot afford to give any excuses for failing to deliver in the next five years. The BJP has absolute majority in the state and at the Centre. This is a golden opportunity to speed up the development of the state.
One of the main complaints that the people of the state, including elected representatives, made about the tenure of the Pema Khandu government from 2016 to 2019 was that it was basically a government run by the bureaucrats, with the secretaries running the show. In fact, the joke around the civil secretariat is that Chief Secretary Satya Gopal is the ‘super CM’ and that CM Khandu and DCM Chowna Mein are his subordinates. Barring a few, how many of these IAS officers, who mostly come for a short period of posting to the state, can be expected to understand the problems faced by the people of the state by sitting in their air-conditioned offices in the secretariat? In a democracy, the elected representatives are elected by the people to have their grievances redressed. The chief minister will have to empower his ministers and MLAs and make them accountable for every penny that the government spends. Also, it’s time that the talented officers – not those who are busy being sycophants in the secretariat – are given proper postings.
The challenges ahead will be not be easy for Khandu. The state is witnessing massive unemployment problems. The healthcare and the education sectors need urgent upgrading. But the most urgent need is to immediately start pumping money to improve the condition of the roads across the state. Good roads are the most important elements for the development of any state or country.