Back to square one

Monday Musing

[ Bengia Ajum ]

When the APPSC paper leakage scam hit the state, there was a huge uproar against the corrupt practice in the state. A genuine anti-corruption sentiment erupted and anyone suspected to be involved in corrupt practices was ruthlessly criticised on media and other public forums. Politicians, bureaucrats, technocrats, and even student leaders were not spared. The anti-corruption movement spread across the state and was mostly led by youths. A few rich and influential people using corrupt means to get their kith and kin into the top echelon of state government service deeply hurt the majority of the people of Arunachal Pradesh.

Everyone in the state thought that the APPSC paper leakage scam would be a turning point in the history of the anti-corruption movement in the state. Many people started to speak out against corruption in various government departments too. It gave a ray of hope to many Arunachalis that in the 2024 assembly election, the money culture would end and people would vote based on the development agenda. The election is over and, as the reports start pouring in, it looks like we are back to square one. The amount of money candidates spend during the election in the state is very scary. There are reports that in some constituencies, voters were even paid Rs 2 lakhs per vote. Besides buying the voters, the candidates had to arrange vehicles, and sometimes even booked flight tickets. What is most discouraging is to see youths, who are seen as the future of the state, demanding money from the candidates. I wonder how they will question their elected representatives after selling themselves to the highest bidder during the election. For the next five years, literally the major chunk of voters who took money to vote have to remain mute spectators as they have already sold themselves.

It was deeply distressing to see the behaviour of the voters. In many constituencies, voters simply refused to even read the manifesto of the candidates and were seen as being allergic to the word ‘development’. Funnily, the candidates and voters blame each other for the money culture. The voters claim that candidates are offering them money and therefore they are accepting it, while the candidates allege that voters make the demands and they are left with no option but to pay them. This election saw candidates selling their properties to fund the election. In many constituencies, voters had a field day as they took money from both candidates and assured them of votes. There was a complete breakdown of morality. Even the deeply religious people who otherwise pass sermons of good behaviour to others turned into the devils during election time.

While the voters might think they fooled the candidates by accepting money, what they don’t realise is that they have destroyed the future of their respective constituencies. For the next five years,whoever wins will be busy earning to recover the invested money and also to get ready for the next election. Everyone knows that there is no point in crying over spilt milk, but one cannot deny the fact that those who truly care for the future of Arunachal and those who are against money culture are still hurting and have been deeply traumatised by the behaviour of voters in the 2024 election.