Election postmortem

Flights Of Fantasy

[ M Panging Pao ]

Simultaneous elections for assembly and Lok Sabha were held in Arunachal Pradesh on 19 April 2024. Elections were conducted at 2226 polling stations spread across the state. Few polling stations could be reached only on foot with ballot boxes and other material transported by porters and mules.

Elections were notified on 20 March 2024. After hectic lobbying for party tickets followed by hectic campaigning for about 30 days, elections were successfully conducted in the state. During the campaign cash and items worth over Rs. 18 Crores were seized. There were also reports of violent clashes between various factions from few constituencies.

For the two Lok Sabha seats, 14 candidates are in the fray. The ruling BJP is contesting all 60 assembly seats. Ten BJP candidates have won elections unopposed. For the remaining 50 of the 60 Assembly seats, 133 candidates are in the race. The party-wise breakdown is BJP 60, Congress 19, National People’s Party 20 candidates, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) 14, Peoples Party of Arunachal (PPA) 11, Arunachal Democratic Party (ADP) 4, Lok Jana Shakti Party 1 and 14 Independents.

The state witnessed about 70% voting from about 892,694 voters. The number of female voters were more than male voters. Re-polling would be held in 4 polling stations after reports of violent incidents. About 15000 officials and officers deputed from other states/centre as observers, expenditure observers were deployed for conduct of the elections. About 80 companies of central armed police forces, including IRBn and state police forces were deployed for the elections. Defence minister Rajnath Singh, BJP president JP Nadda, Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, Meghalaya chief minister Conrad Sangma and other state leaders campaigned in the state.

The enthusiasm for voting was so great that many polling stations witnessed voting till late into the night and up to next morning. There were reports of EVM malfunction and system delays at few polling stations. Many students also returned back from various parts of the country and state to cast their valuable votes. In fact, Itanagar, Naharlagun wore a deserted look as most officials, staff, students went back to vote in their native places.

Presently the fate of these 133 candidates for Assembly and 14 candidates for Lok Sabha are sealed inside EVMs kept in guarded strong rooms. And it is an agonizing long wait for about 42 days till declaration of results on 02 June.

However, as per many reports a humongous amount of money was used in these elections. It was seen that many voters did not vote based on development, ideology, peace etc. but voted based on money power only. The Festival of Democracy could also be called Festival of Money! This voting pattern based on money power must be curbed else our future generations would be at great peril. A mass movement or youth revolution is needed to curb this deadly societal virus of ‘Money Culture in Elections.’ Otherwise candidates might need hundreds of crores to stand in the next elections. (The contributor is retired Group Captain, Indian Air Force)