TODAY -

Two faces of democracy
- The People's Chronicle Editorial :: April 23, 2024 -



As Chief Election Officer (CEO) Pradeep Kumar Jha had noted, the overall voter turnout of 68.62 percent registered in the polling held on April 19 in all the 32 assembly segments of Inner Manipur Parliamentary Constituency and 15 Assembly segments of Outer Manipur Parliamentary Constituency may be one of the lowest turnouts recorded in the history of Parliamentary elections conducted in Manipur, but the special polling booths set up for the displaced people at their relief camps recording an average turnout of 95 per cent has definitely sent out a strong message to the world.

It is a resounding message no politician, political party or government could afford to ignore if they want to be in the good books of the people living in a democratic society.

The fact that election to the 18th Lok Sabha had been thrusted upon them in the midst of an unresolved humanitarian crisis and yet the displaced people had come out in large number to exercise their democratic rights of electing representative of their choice has made the message all the more poignant.

It has shown that people still have strong faith in our democratic system even if they have lost faith in political parties which thrive on spreading propaganda or the politicians, who are abusing their power and depriving the rights of the people.

With the meaningful definition of democracy as "a form of government of the people, by the people and for the people" given by Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the United States; now being mocked as 'Off' the people, 'buy' the people and 'far' the people!", Indian democracy in its present form may not be the best system of governance without any flaws.

Nonetheless, it is still the best available system of governance we have today that gives us the power to decide how we want the country to be governed by exercising our rights to vote judiciously to elect representatives of our choice.

This is what the ethnic crisis affected people who have been living at the relief camps after their houses were burned down or flattened to the ground have demonstrated to the world. Of course, there might be some among the displaced people who abstained from exercising their voting rights in the election this time in resentment and it is also possible that many of the people who came out to vote may have pressed the None of the Above (NOTA) button, but it does not in any way indicated the loss of faith in democracy and its principles of governing a country.

This is also true in the case of "very low" voter turnout recorded in Kangpokpi district.

If not for the Kuki-Chin civil society groups calling for 'abstention' from the election, people in the hill district would have come out voluntarily to exercise their democratic rights of voting to elect representatives of their choice.

Whatever be their grievances against the government, Kuki-Chin civil society groups have done a great harm to democracy by discouraging the people from participating in the electoral process of the country.

This was an opportunity lost for the people to wield their democratic power of vetoing the political party or the government in power if they have any genuine resentment.

By forcing the people to abstain from voting, which means continuation of the bad political party or politicians to remain in power; Kuki-Chin civil society groups have acted in a way very much similar to the anti-democratic forces which attempted to capture booths, carried out proxy voting and intimidated election agents of rival political parties at many polling stations across the valley district on the polling day.

Here, the only difference is that repolling has been already ordered and carried out in the polling stations where the electoral process was marred by such malpractices in the valley, but there would be no such corrective measure for mass voter abstention in the hill districts.



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