Prepared for elections, are we really?
[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he Deputy Election Commissioner, Sudhir Tripathi reviewing the poll preparedness of the state for the ensuing 16th Lok Sabha elections, expressed satisfaction on the overall electoral arrangements in Nagaland.
He held meetings with the state’s DGP, Chief Secretary and the Home Commissioner related to security arrangements, and also conducted video conferencing with the DCs and SPs of various districts, going over all the election preparations covering all aspects.In his meeting with political parties the DEC is on record for stating that the recognized political parties, shared apprehension relating to distribution of the Electors Photo Identity Card (EPIC) within the time frame.The Plastic Electors Photo Identity Card is being introduced for the first time in Assam and Nagaland during the 16th Lok Sabha polls.
While political parties ought to be concerned about the timely availability of the EPIC to the voters, as a resident of the state one is equally concerned (if not more) about the validity and legality of how these EPICS are being determined and subsequently used.
It is that time of the year again when the Naga public will need to contemplate and meditate on the power of the vote …and see the exercise as a sacred duty. It determines our collective future.
When elections come around the queues invariably at every polling station sees an oversized number of ‘voters’ who distinctly don’t appear to be bonafide residents of the state. It is an open secret that the acquisition of residential proof by illegal migrants is becoming a problem. The Inner line Permit has failed to act as a deterrent in checking the influx as seen in the experience of several drives taken up by the Angami Students Union, in Kohima last year. The student’s body has attempted to check the legal working permits of traders and casual workers to no avail.
Proxy voting continues to be a bane. And one can say this from experience. There have been several occasions when one’s vote has already been cast before one has actually arrived at the polling station. In such cases when the genuine voter turns up his/her vote perhaps such votes should be considered disqualified since the vote has been violated?
There are so many other reasons why in Nagaland the electorate need to be worried when elections come around. The state has achieved the dubious reputation of the single state in the country where election related expenses by political parties and candidates are the highest! This is just a euphemism for saying that elections in the state are the most corrupt. So much for a state which blares out “Nagaland for Christ”.
The state also boasts of a relatively good number of young electorate, comprising 16% of the electorate in the age group of 18- 25 years. Women constitute 50.61% out of the state’s total 11,74, 663 electorate.
The state also holds first place in voter turnout with 89.99% in the 2009 elections.
Things don’t get better. The Election Commission appears to have caught on to the next accepted norm of appeasing voters after money …the distribution of liquor.
The Commission sent its Convenor of ECI, Liquor Monitoring Committee, Santosh K. Mishra who arrived Nagaland, to review measures for preventing illegal distribution of liquor during the forthcoming 16th Lok Sabha elections.
The review is to take place with all the DCs, SPs, and Excise Superintendent on March 14, over a video conferencing.
This year the Election Commission is believed to have devised a special standard operating procedures (SOPs) for control of illegal liquor during the elections and the DCs of the districts have to give detail report to the Election Commission on the progress in curbing the illegal liquor regularly.
Any seizures must be reported to the Election Commission through the CEO office informed. Appeals were further made to social organisations, NGOs and the village/ward level awareness committees to create awareness in curbing electoral mal-practices such as distribution of liquor etc and any such attempt by any political party or candidate. Any such ‘illegal ‘ activity is to be reported to the DEO immediately, which could lead to dis-qualification of the concerned candidate.
That is the power vested in the voter/ electorate in the run up to the actual voting day.
The Election Commission is said to be stepping up this survey and an inter-state co-ordination with Assam is also being done to prevent liquor flow into Nagaland during elections, Convenor of ECI liquor Monitoring Committee informed.
How effectively these checks and balances will be implemented remains to be seen, but by past experiences very little actually does get implemented.
We all it appears are sailing in the same boat and will also similarly sail or sink together.
One question we need to ask ourselves is can we carry on the way we have been and still expect to have a bright future for our children?