The issue of election freebies is not confined to Meghalaya alone. The two very recent and popular examples concern the Delhi government under Arvind Kejriwal and the central government under Prime Minister Modi. The former has offered a number of freebies such as education, electricity, medical tests, transportation, water, etc which was circulating in the news as revdi (sweet dish) culture; the latter has promised free ration every month to 80 crores Indians till December, 2023. These two examples show that all political parties look at freebies as a means to win votes. This underlines the fact that as long as the people are poor, one can prey on their poorness and promote oneself into power. The case of Meghalaya is more intriguing. While struggling on many socio-economic development indicators, the infusion of election freebies by candidates/parties is troubling. It depicts that politics in Meghalaya is not about vision and goals, growth and development, livelihood and transformation. In the perception of the candidates/parties, the voters can be emotionally and psychologically played with and it basically sends a certain type of message.
The gullible voter
In election campaigning, we can commonly hear the political parties say that ‘the voters of this area/constituency are educated and wise’. In one such campaign, a group of males were feeling proud on being referred to as ‘wise’. However, the experience of recent years points to the contrary. As voters, we all have to ask the question of election wisdom. To a large extent, the majority of the voters are found to be gullible. As voters we are too quick to accept and believe whatever the candidates say. The practical applicability of the quote ‘public memory is short’ can be seen during elections. In 2018, they said, that they would improve education and health, create employment opportunities, build world class sporting facilities, preserve the environment, etc. Till today, none of these have come true. Behold! Today they come again with the same promises. If as voters, we are indeed educated and wise, then their rhetorical assurances must be ignored. The effective way to ignore is not vote for them anymore. But, the ground reality is something else. Candidates are holding football tournaments. It is frustrating as this tournament happens only once in five years. Even the world cup happens every four years. If the voters are wise, then we would have rejected such an election tournament. Instead, ask the candidate/party to assure proper grass turf on the field with stands for the people to sit and enjoy the game. This is the best time to reverse the trend of election gullibility.
I did not do my job in the past
If a candidate/party goes to voters with freebies and trinkets such as blankets, chairs, utensils, sports tournaments, etc during election, it is basically an admission of guilt. It is the guilt of not having done his/her job during its term. No wonder, most of the candidates have become so active in the recent six months.
To read the further articles please get your copy of Eastern Panorama February issue or mail to email@example.com