Elections are integral to the existence of a democracy. Citizens should be able to freely elect who they believe will work towards the development and sustenance of the society. On the other hand, the candidates standing for elections must refrain from resorting to unfair means for securing votes. Rukusheyi Rhakho takes a look at the problems of electoral malpractices and how each of us is responsible for ensuring a free and fair election.
(This week’s article secured the 2nd place in the college level essay competition held as part of the Youth Voters’ Festival organized by the Election Commission of India, the Election Department in collaboration with government departments of the state and central government, partnering agencies and the educational institutions of Nagaland.)
Electoral malpractices in a country with a vast number of illiterate, impoverished, and scores living below poverty lines becomes rather rampant and unchecked largely due to the ignorance of the people.
Malpractices during elections have been devised either covertly or openly by political parties or electoral candidates using a nefarious design of hook or crook. And this strategy, as a means has been efficient and is used due to its nature and position, as well as the influence and the results it guarantees. Such practices are largely left unchecked due to political pressure to ignore these venal practices which then exert pressure into the electoral mechanism, with the constant fear of backslashes looming in the background if pursued or investigated; thus, making it difficult to ensure a clean and fair electoral process.
In a diverse democratic country, malpractices have become a common feature of elections as if a logo or symbol to signify elections. Nevertheless, upon examining the matter closely, electoral malpractices have attained new levels of complexities and sophistications. They crush agencies that probe and investigate to verify that electoral malpractices are done away with. Nowadays, there has been a major turn in the way electoral malpractices are orchestrated and conducted. Through the dissemination of money and other luxury goods the rich and powerful candidates sway and influence the people and public opinions with materialistic benefits.
Parties and candidates resort to utilizing muscle power to force and deter the people and voters. This is again unchecked due to prying eyes of the parties or candidates who can easily manipulate everything that the government does to prevent or check malpractices. However, this is not only the fault of the political parties, the candidates, or the political powers backing them, it also has to do largely with the mindset of the people and their short-term, selfish desires. Although modern education has brought innumerable constructive changes in the lives of the people, it has clearly not changed the mindset of the people.
Free and fair electoral conduct is something we are all familiar with and often hear about; however, have we even comprehended its true meaning: its deeper meanings, its real conducive elements, and the functions it should serve? Presently, various sections of the society have taken up the call for free and fair elections and clean electoral practices. But the imperative question to ask is: Will the people accept it? Will the people really change?
The phrase “solution to electoral malpractices start with me”, has an apt meaning and also a rather aesthetic meaning to it. The very word and phrase imply that solutions to the electoral malpractices begin with me: myself, yourself, ourselves. And that we alone are responsible and have the obligation of changing the very electoral plague that has consumed every nook and cranny of the society. The solution we construct should stay within the bounds of our conscious mind, and we should simultaneously and sincerely work towards it, and not only speak and babble around the catch phrase while hiding and sitting quietly when the situation confronts us. That is why the word “me” has so much meaning. It means not someone else but oneself; it won’t be our parents or relatives or friends or neighbors, it has to be Me! The educational background, the experiences gained, and the consequence of a wrong decision, when we take a wrong turn during the elections, have to be learned, taught, and passed on to everyone because elections determine the conditions of our society; after all, we inhabit a nation that is government dependent.
Altogether guidelines such as not accepting money from the candidates, not bribing others, or not buying votes are some essential principles, these only address only half of the problem. The other half consist in addressing who must make the public awareness that will kindle understanding and bring about change that abolishes such fraudulent practices? Who must take up the yoke of delivering the society towards an electoral malpractice-free society? It is ourselves, it is I, ‘myself’; and it is you, ‘yourself’ that must take up the burden, not anyone else.
The duties that we follow should teach and make the society understand that it is not only about the material or lobbying benefits, which is illegal and unfair; nor is it about the money that we secure for our support or other material luxuries the candidates provide, rather it is about our very future that’s at stake. It is our society; it is our life that is at stake. When we give in to the materialistic magnets we harm our society, our life, our future. We must learn to detach ourselves from the materialistic pursuit at the cost of the society and morals. We must learn to look at the road that lies ahead. We must come to an understanding that an electoral malpractice-free society is not only best for our future but also conducive to the well-being of the society. In taking the right step today, we ascertain and secure our society and our future. We should be the stepping stones toward a brighter future and it should be the purpose of our lives. We should take the lead to show the people that their votes are precious, more precious than money, alcohol, or party affiliations. And that their votes can bring down a corrupt government and put in its place a government that attends to society’s voice and concerns; a government that truly fulfills its promises.
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 recognized Commerce and Arts College. The editors are Dr. Hewasa Lorin, Anjan Behera, Dr. Salikyu Sangtam, Nivibo Yiki, and Kvulo Lorin. For feedback or comments please email: email@example.com.