Now there is an unfamiliar lull in the political fever and drama that unfolded during the weeks leading up to the Nagaland Legislative Assembly elections. For many, it left behind a grim and disheartening picture about our state and our people. There were a few standing up for honesty and truth, but the truth is that Nagaland seems to need more time to make the call for clean elections a reality.
Musings on the Nagaland Legislative Assembly Elections 2018
I don’t consider myself an expert in the affairs of politics nor do I have any vested interest in politics. But like so many others before me have done, I want to present an outside and purely unbiased opinion on what I observed during these elections as a mere bystander. I was saddened to witness myriad things that were happening during the past years leading to the election, which again showed us the sorry state we Nagas are in. We call ourselves as Christians but this election has made me question our Christian faith. Are we Nagas a mockery of Christianity?
Leading up to the election, all the local dailies carried news about the many fateful incidents that happened involving different party followers from the same village, clan and who knows, even close relatives. Threatening to take lives, to destroy property, and to disown them from their clan/village if one does not follow the rules of the particular community or party is no way to conduct an election in a democratic country. Videos became viral on different social media sites depicting how barbaric we Nagas become in the name of election, which only shows us in a negative light on National media where our image is already flawed. Do we want our mainland Indian brothers and sisters to think of us as a value-less society still living in the primitive age with no notion of what a democracy is? Is this the love we show to our fellow brothers and sisters as Christians? I guess the answer is no. Then we need to act like one.
Whenever I look back at 2018 Nagaland election, the first thing that will come to my mind will be the slogan ‘Clean Election’, a laudable initiative taken up by NBCC. This slogan was preached everywhere starting from schools, colleges, different organisations, charity and promotional events and most importantly in Churches. I for one attended numerous programmes on clean elections in different capacities. The question now is how many of us can rightly say that we stood for clean election? I know many who practiced clean elections (count me in), but on the flip side, there were too many rotten potatoes in the basket called ‘Nagaland’. I came across many so-called ‘Christians’ or should I say ‘Sunday believers’ who passionately signed the pledge for the clean election. I presume some might have signed the pledge to show that they are true Christians who are not corrupted or lovers of money. I wonder how many of our candidates signed the ‘Clean Election’ pledge. As the election approached we spotted our ‘Sunday believers’ in their newly acquired SUV’s with their entourage and ‘money-bags’ distributing the ‘money’ to buy ‘milk & sugar’ or to use it as a ‘fare’ on polling day (are we that gullible?). The elections have taught the Naga people the art of business, where we sell our votes to the person who can pay us sizeably. One vote equals one thousand, sometimes the price goes up as high as 1 lakh. But is it a good business transaction? Ask yourself; what good are you going to do with the money that you get by hounding someone? Don’t we have any conscience? Don’t you fear the wrath of God that will surely fall upon you or your succeeding generations? I am no soothsayer but I can already glimpse some of God’s wrath upon Naga people. People who took ‘money’ during the election are now saying, and I quote “I am not going to pay school/college fees from the money that I got during the election because my children might fail in the exam”. This clearly shows that we know that it is wrong but we still do it. Money is like the forbidden fruit here. Our elder might forgive them, blaming it on their lack of education or ignorance, but what was disheartening to see was, some of the educated Naga youth who we call as tomorrow’s leaders, following in the footsteps of some ignorant and corrupt leaders, going where the money or alcohol are within arm’s reach.
When I mull over our candidates in this election and what they did through the course of their campaign leading up to the elections, sometimes I felt sorry for some of the candidates. Yes, 59% of our candidates were crorepatis so no worries for them even though they had to part with some few crores, but apparently, from what I heard, some of the candidates had to trade their houses and lands to give out money to the public. Now, some may say they built those palatial houses/mansions with the money given for development purpose so why fret; and I don’t disagree but and there is a big BUT here, if in the first place we public did not ask for money from the candidate, then I believe that this cycle would not have began. So now that the candidates have sold their houses that they built during their last tenure as ministers what do you expect them to do? If you are wise enough you know the answer. And as a result of this, it is difficult to break this cycle but not impossible.
In spite of all the negative forces standing in the way of ‘Clean Election’, I would like to believe that there is still hope for Naga people. In the midst of all these, there are many honest and God fearing Naga youths/leaders who are capable of changing the face of Nagaland. As the old saying goes ‘Rome was not built in a day’, for the Naga people also the seed of Clean Election has already been sown and I believe that it won’t be long before we reap the fruits.
Degree of Thought is a weekly community column initiated by Tetso College in partnership with The Morung Express. Degree of Thought will delve into the social, cultural, political and educational issues around us. The views expressed here do not reflect the opinion of the institution. Tetso College is a NAAC Accredited UGC recognised Commerce and Arts College. The editors are Dr Hewasa Lorin, Tatongkala Pongen, Seyiesilie Vupru, Vikono Krose and Kvulo Lorin. Portrait photographer: Rhilo Mero. For feedback or comments please email:firstname.lastname@example.org.