Judicious Selection Of Candidates
- Need of the hour –

Seram Neken *

The job counters have been abruptly closed. Thanks to the Election Commission of India for enforcing the election code of conduct in the midst of unruly job business going on in Manipur during the last few weeks. Twenty lakhs, thirty lakhs, forty lakhs and fifty lakhs – the members of our affluent society were ready to pay for the salaried government jobs for their sons and daughters.

Almost all recruitments done in haste during the short spell of a few weeks involved exchange of currencies in bundles from one pocket to the other. This writer also learned that a number of youths were also gifted with government jobs totally free of cost in some assembly constituencies. The job market was heavily rushed with powerful and affluent shoppers. Now the recruitment fair has ended.

Countdown to the 11th Manipur Legislative Assembly elections begins. Aspiring candidates and political parties are in hectic schedule for wooing the electorate. Wealthy and powerful individuals, in the social workers’ attire with folded hands have started frequenting door to door with a vow to serve the poor people.

Meanwhile, majority of the voters, as usual, are surely awaiting the new 2000-Rupee notes knocking their doors. All burning social issues have now lost relevance. Political ideologies are no longer guiding principles of our leaders. ILP, AFSPA, integrity, Loktak, Ema Market, Street Vendor, so on and so forth will no longer be our concern.

With money playing a greater role in elections, ‘Vote’ has become a mere trading commodity between the sellers and the buyers. With such electioneering going on for a number of years, our elected leaders consider their positions and status more valuable than the very issues of the people.

Very recently we have witnessed our honorable elected leaders demonstrating more unanimity and smartness in times of crises affecting their very own positions, rather than in matters concerning the people’s grievances.

During the hectic agitations for implementation of Inner Line Permit system in Manipur sometime back, the leaders of various political parties including the chief minister and the cabinet ministers had taken enormous time in seeking appointments with the Prime Minister, the Home Minister and other concerned leaders in Delhi for pursuing the matter relating to the pending bills.

Their proposed journey to Delhi for pursuing the approval of the bills was delayed on account of, in their words, not getting appointments with the higher-ups. However, the people of Manipur witnessed how dynamic and united our MLAs were in rushing to Delhi to react to the president’s rule rumour.

In the winter morning on that fateful day, members of Congress Legislature Party hurried to the Chief Minister’s official residence for an urgent meet, and by evening, a team of 52 Congressmen reached the Capital to save their positions. In no other issue affecting the state and their people, did our leaders respond in such haste.

In such a state of affair and narrow mindsets of our leaders, the people of Manipur have developed a trust deficit on the political system in general and the politicians particular. With the election and governance becoming a big business, a number of wealthy and powerful notwithstanding their commitment to the people’s cause, come out to contest elections in the nook and corner of the state.

Besides the long queues at banks, ATM booths, Oil pumps and what not, another queue has been lined up on the eve of general elections. It is not of the voters in front of polling booths, but of the politicians who are aspiring for party tickets to contest the election.

We, the people of Manipur, should be proud that we have innumerable number of leaders who appear to be dedicated and sacrificed for the service of the people. Moreover, we have social workers who are wealthy, powerful and capable.

The current fashion is: “Earn money by hook or by crook, become self-styled social workers, join politics, contest elections, be leaders and loot the people”. Hence, with the so called social workers mushrooming in the nook and corner of the state, there is no reason Manipur lags behind the rest of the world.

As soon as the party tickets for the forthcoming general elections are announced, it is for sure that lotuses on top of buildings will turn aeroplanes, cars, lanterns, electric bulbs, tractors, spades or any other, while the flags with ‘Hand symbol on it’ erected at the gates will be replaced by those of others.

In Manipur, defection from one political party to another for contesting elections is not a matter of shame, and we are sure that our politicians never stick to party ideology. Their only goal is to contest election from any political platform. Party ideology, leadership quality, political ethics and Election agenda have no place in Manipur polity.

With the dates for the poll approaching, the major political parties particularly the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) is surely in quandary over the allotment of party tickets to its plentiful of aspiring candidates. Barring a few assembly constituencies, almost all constituencies have no less than three candidates aspiring for BJP ticket.

The Congress party is not completely free from such impasse over party tickets in some assembly constituencies. When ticket losers of the major political parties shift affiliations at the eleventh hour to contest elections, the whole political scenario of the state will get an overhaul. Therefore, psephologists in Manipur will be in a difficult situation in analyzing trends of this upcoming election because of the likely topsy turvy in the political parties after the ticket announcement.

Now the time has come for setting a certain basic minimum qualification and experience for those who aspire to be party candidates. Money should not be the criteria for selecting candidates. Each and every political party must at least consider the personal career, character and degree of involvement in social activities of the aspirant candidates while issuing party tickets.

* Seram Neken wrote this article for Imphal Times
This article was posted on January 12, 2017.

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