TODAY -

To vote, or not to vote ?
- The People's Chronicle Editorial :: April 19, 2024 -



WITH the stage finally set for polling in the Inner Manipur Parliamentary Constituency to elect a Member of Parliament (MP) who can live up to the expectations of the people, it is up to the people themselves to judiciously exercise their voting rights so that they do not have any regret over the decision and choice they made now for the next five years, at least.

Considering the prevailing unsettling situation in the state, where hundreds of families are either in bereavement over the loss of their loved ones or living with uncertainty over the fate of their missing loved ones while thousands of displaced families are seeking shelter in the relief camps following the outbreak of an unprecedented ethnic conflict between two communities since May 3 last year, it may sound insensitive to ask the people to take part in the electoral process of electing a representative to the 18th Lok Sabha.

Even if the election to the 18th Lok Sabha election has been thrusted upon the people in the midst of an unresolved humanitarian crisis, now is the hour of reckoning for the same bereaved and displaced families as well to think of the future, not just of their own but also of the state. So, the question of "To vote, or not to vote?" should not arise in the mind of the people who believe in the democratic principle of participation in electing representatives to govern the country with transparency and accountability.

The right to vote guaranteed under Article 326 of the Indian Constitution to every citizen above the age of 18 is a special privilege that should not be taken for granted.

As the democratic exercise of electing their representatives by the people is a rare opportunity that comes only after every five years, it would not be prudent to squander away a golden opportunity given to us to undo a mistake, if we think we have committed one in the past or strengthen our commitment, if we think we have not.

Unfortunately, elections in Manipur have always been a perfect example of the Platonic principle of lesser-evilism, where people have no choice but to settle with the least immoral one when faced with the dilemma of selecting from two immoral options. In the current election too, most people feel that they could expect nothing much from the political parties or the candidates in fray.

Indian National Congress (INC) may have propped up Dr Angomcha Bimol Akoijam, who was teaching at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), Delhi before deciding to take a political plunge headlong, as its candidate from the Inner Manipur Parliamentary Constituency offering an alternative to the ruling party BJP's candidate Thounaojam Ba-santa Kumar, who is a cabinet minister in the N Biren Singh-led government.

But the constant bickering between the two national parties has made the people disillusioned.

Instead of taking the government to task for the sorry state of affairs prevailing in the state with utmost sincerity and helping in the effort of alleviating the suffering of the conflict-affected people, there have been instances where the Congress party made only calculated moves to gain some political brownie points by attacking the BJP at every given opportunity and the latter doing the same to deflect public attention from the burning issues afflicting the state.

As for the choice to be made from among the remaining candidates on the hustings, namely, Maheshwar Thounaojam of Republican Party of India (Athawale), two independent candidates - R K Somendro alias Kaiku, and Haorungbam Sarat, and Moirangthem Totomsana Nongshaba of the RjSP, the less said the better so as not to prick the bubble in which they have been living in.

The fact that Constitution of India accorded the right to contest election to every illegal Indian citizen does not necessarily translate that everyone entering the electoral battle is the right candidate to represent the people.

Their love for the ailing motherland may be unquestionable and all of them may have done "exemplary works" for the people who have been affected by the over eleven months long conflict in the state, but that do not necessarily qualify them to get into politics, which is altogether a different ball game.

That is where the question of "To vote, or not to vote?" which should not have arisen in the first place in a representative democracy, needs to be understood.



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