“One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics, is that you end up being governed by your inferiors”. Plato
Our idea of life is no longer just an animal existence. We are now in quest of whether the world we first inherited was better than what we have today. If not, what can we do for our better tomorrow. Take it as an existential frustration looking for a catalyst to turn life of exasperation into life with a purpose. A rational being’s search for meaning of his existence can drive him to any extend of seeking for truth and justice. In this context political animals are often pushed to liberation movement from the shackles of domination, subjugation and servitude. The given situation may not be a level playing field altogether. Yet the victims knows that they have no choice but to stand up for just cause. Okay, that’s fine. But what about the processes to follow during the ‘struggling period’? The safety valves that draws closer to scheming of things to deal with republic and its polity on everyday basis cannot be taken for granted. (Forgive me for not being advocate of religiosity. I am tired of listening to bellicose preachers void of spirituality too).
Just a fortnight ago, I had a chance meeting with some friends at Ukhrul and had civil interactions touching upon various issues we have in our society. It turned out to be a surcharged moment with full of grievances. One of them tried to impede me from leaving the room before hearing him first. He started, “Look at the Mamata Benerjee’s ‘Khela hobe’ to MK Stalin’s ‘uncovering the darkness to new dawn’ election sloganeering politics to focus on transformation journey. Who doesn’t need light in the darkness’”? And he continued, “It is the public audit period of peoples’ representatives to look back on their performances during the last 5 years — be it in the State Assembly or Parliament. Candidates who won the last election that fall short of people’s expectation, or for the purpose he/she was elected must be held accountable. Many times elections have come and gone leaving behind streaks of unfulfilled promises. We felt we have been cheated by our political representatives. It may be partly true but not in toto. Our bad experiences of wrong choice of candidates during election times are to be blamed for deteriorating economic condition and political marginalization. In a democracy, electorates have the ultimate say who to elect and leave the one who cheated them. Fellow citizens, we may not be political animals like our representatives, but certainly, we have the authority to choose who to give our mandate and elect the right candidate. We are not against nationalism, and against people who are in the front-line in the movement. Our genuine grievance is to let the people decide. We want our elected MLA/MP is capable of representing us effectively both within and outside the Assembly/Parliament halls”.
As the discourse ended, I found myself perplexed and responded impromptu, “Political slogans that could calvanise electorates consciousness to reset the contours of people’s hope in politics is mesmerizing indeed”. But inside, the real take home was reviewing what went wrong in the system. One can expect we will be more divided than we began when peoples’ aspiration is turned into chimera of political elites.
We need to re-invent ourselves and re-look for course correction. The right chemistry of electorates – representatives dyad is undoubtedly important. Yet, our observation cannot be far divorced from social composition, ethnic divide, cultural and linguistic differences that largely shaped the political dynamics in the State of Manipur. Competing narratives of informed citizens from different ethnic groups are dangerously heading towards parallel approaches. Politicians daring to present competing interest that suit their constituencies during election campaign is not an uncommon thing. Fidelity to ideology, irrespective of push and pulls has become inviting threat to one’s personal life. The expectation of electorate is largely no longer socially oriented but for course, for one’s individual gain. Honestly, no MLA can satisfy all his constituency electorates under the sun. Further, election being cornerstone of success in electoral politics in a democratic system, the single point agenda of every political parties is coming to power by any means. Even otherwise, also if a party with beautiful manifesto miss the mark to get into power then what is at stake for the party in general, and its candidate in particular is a big question.
Sadly, in reality, there is no party with a difference to apply capability approach to bring social justice and economic development with value based ethics. It needs humongous effort to bring a strategic if not thorough review of our electoral system. The best example to emulate is Mizos in Mizoram. For Mizos, politics is not the game of haves alone. It needs committed person to work for the community having the requisite political principle, work ethics and moral values. We can no longer afford to leave electoral politics in the hands of politicians alone. People need to conscientiously participate in electing our representatives or else what Plato had observed more than 2000 years ago will continue to haunt us. “One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics, is that you end up being governed by your inferiors”.
The common-man are adrift and enfeebled and much is to blame the informed citizens for failing to firm up with credible narrative on the existing horizon of lacklustre damp squib scenario supplanted against the ethos of fair play statesmanship sports.
The unabashedly majoritarian politics of one size fits all which is a threat to our social, cultural, political, literature and religious identity or the successive policy of divide and rule, imprudent moderation to kill the insect not the germ politics, need to be informed to common man. Make no mistake in having the illusion that other political party can have a walk over. It’s about perspective. Each of you have to prove on merit. Malice towards non.
Worso Zimik is a Lawyer based in Delhi. Views expressed are personal.