TODAY -

Political Culture Polluted

Seram Neken *

Voting for 16th Lok Sabha election 2014 for Inner Manipur Parliamentary in the heart of Imphal City :: 17  April 2014
Voting for 16th Lok Sabha election 2014 for Inner Manipur Parliamentary in April 2014 :: Pix - Jinendra Maibam



Collapse of bridges, walls and buildings are in the news frequently, while complaints for delay in various development works are heard. Whenever any enquiry or investigations into the misdeeds are initiated, it is seldom effective due to high level of connivance with political powers that be.

Has it become a natural process in Manipur that politicians turn contractors, and contractors become politicians ? Even though not all political leaders are wealth-oriented, the criteria of becoming a man of politics seems to be the amount of wealth earned from contract works and supplies, and similarly the criteria of becoming a heavyweight contractor appears to be the quantum of political powers they possess. Hence, it is as if CONTRACT WORK and POLITICS are synonymous jargons.

In order to maintain a systematic socio-political order, it is imperative that politics is not polluted with business-minded and profit-mongering mindset of the so called self-styled social workers. Of course, there are still a very few real social workers in Manipur doing politics without selfish ends. There are still politicians who have patriotic zeal in them. However, as ‘a seed of rice pollutes the whole bowl’, a few contract-minded political leaders have maligned the image of present day political genre.

Manipur has apparently become a den politician-turned-contractors and contractor-turned-politicians. The resultant effect is ‘a highly degrading political culture’, which tends to jeopardize the true spirit of democracy.

Parliamentary Democracy demands a free and fair election process, where the people are able to choose their leaders with full conscience and wisdom. However, wealth backed by muscle power has been playing a dominant role in today’s electoral politics. Nowadays, the very first question asked to an aspiring candidate is “How much money he/she has earned, how many luxurious and heavy vehicles he/she owned, how many plots of land he/she has acquired, how many conmen he/she has befriended, etc. etc.”

It is therefore mandatory for anyone aspiring to be in electoral politics to earn money by hook or by crook. The electorate rarely asks the social background, educational qualification, personality traits or sincerity levels of aspiring candidates. So, those who have the dynamism and potentialities of becoming public leaders begin to think of acquiring wealth on priority basis, thereby compromising their sincerity, dedication and social image.

In such an environment, the society can hardly groom and produce competent political leaders who can dwell on various social issues, and deliver better services to the people. Instead of working for the people who have elected them, the so called ‘self-styled-social-workers –turned-Political Leaders’ begin looting public money by doing all sorts of contract works and supplies either directly or indirectly through their near and dear ones.

Subsequently, the qualities of various development works have degraded. Frequent news of collapse of bridges, walls and buildings are in the news, while complaints for delay in various works are heard. Whenever any enquiry or investigations into the misdeeds are initiated, it is seldom effective due to high level of connivance with political powers that be.

A few decades back, when the unlawful underground elements were very active in Manipur society, the contractors seemed to be careful in maintaining the quality of their works. There were instances, where underground organizations punished engineers or contractors for bad quality works. However, nowadays as the unlawful underground elements are not so active as before, it appears that the quality maintenance of contract works has also been neglected. The vacuum is not filled well by the government agencies meant for such vigilance activities.

Only to serve the electoral requirements, a number of politicians establish nexus with illegal traders and arms deals. Tacit links with unlawful armed groups or individual criminals or terrorists have become common among many political leaders, who help aggravate chaos and anarchy in society. Election in today’s design, therefore, has become an institution which brings forth crimes and offenses.

When Ministers and MLAs are involved in contract works or supplies, the officials of departments concerned are unable to pay a strict vigil on them, thereby hampering timely completion of various works and compromising the quality of the works. The end loser is the public who really are the owners of public property. Such a trend has not only maligned the true spirit of politics, but also suppressed the technical wisdom and energy of the real contractors.

In the present context, all sorts of misdemeanors reflected in our polity are due to the lack of quality of our so called political leaders. In order to nurture quality leadership among today’s politicians who are supposed to guide the people and the society in general, it is time to consider for cleansing the electoral process. Public consciousness of the polluted political culture, and the remedies thereof which are still in the hands of the electorate, should be discussed and deliberated in public domain.

Elections, which are not based on wealth and muscle power, have become the priority to cleanse the system. When the electorate prefers candidates on the basis of their social background, educational levels, intellectual capacity, honesty traits and nationalistic character other than their wealth, properties and muscle power, then the political system can be sanitized automatically.

The society will march forward to be able to compete at the global level, only when we have true political leaders elected by the people with due fairness and fearless voting. As long as Election remains a matter of Money and Muscle power (MMP), as long as heavyweight contractors are taking refuge in politics, as long as political leaders are involved in profit-mongering by vying after contract works; the society will degrade itself day by day.

Hence, it is high time the people of Manipur used their conscience and wisdom in exercising their franchise, instead of bargaining with money.


* Seram Neken (of 'The Voiceless Speaks' ) wrote this article for e-pao.net
The writer is a freelance Columnist and Social Activist and can be contacted at nekenseram(AT)gmail(DOT)com
This article was webcasted on August 27, 2018.



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