ON VOTING DAY, THE IMPORTANT POSER... WHAT GOVERNANCE DO WE WANT

This article was published by the Sangai Express ( http://thesangaiexpress.com) on 28 Jan 2011 at http://www.thesangaiexpress.com/sangai-express-news.php?newsid=12673

In a few hours from now 17,41,581 registered voters spread across 60 Assembly Constituencies would have started to seal their fate and in the process decide what type of governance they would want for the next five years. The next five years is how long the 10th Assembly would last, that is if such a situation does not arise necessitating a mid-term poll but be very clear, the decision that each one of us make is not going to impact just on the next five years but on the type of political leadership that will get institutionalised with another five years backing up as the cushion. And five years is a pretty long time, either to take the State forward, let the status quo continue or take things back by a couple of years. Voting day is the time when that decision rests in the hands of the people, as long as the understanding of democracy can be stretched, yet the uncomfortable question of whether this power is going to be exercised with prudence and far sightedness coupled with a selfless want for the betterment of all or will be determined by sheer selfishness and an ego-centric sense when the interest of the people refuse to move beyond the I and Me and there is nothing to crow about this. If the past is going to be any lesson, then the time is now for the people to decide and act accordingly. Corruption has institutionalised itself to such an extent that its avatar can be seen everywhere.

If the 121 days of economic blockade in 2011 choked the very lifelines of the people, then corruption manifested itself in the long queues in front of fuel pumps and by extension to the Rs 200 or so per litre of petrol in the black market. Corruption revealed itself in all its glorious form in the Rs 2000 per filled LPG cylinder that could be had from the black market while the gas agencies downed shutters and on the few days that they were opened showed that only those who had booked four or five months back were eligible for a refill of their quota. Take this beyond the ambit of the blockade days and the picture should become more clear. The apathy of the ruling coalition coupled with a toothless Opposition, which could only whimper, combined to script the tragedy that was Manipur in the last few decades. We are not only talking about the year or some years gone by but about the systemic failure of each successive Governments down the years. How many times have the issues confronting Manipur been dealt with sincerely ? How seriously have the ruling dispensations, down the years, been able to address the grave situations that Manipur stumbled through and survived with quick succession ? What is the benchmark of a leader ? These are some questions that the people, even as they read this and are readying to go and exercise their franchise rights, should ask themselves. Universal suffrage is a term that was given birth to, has been worked upon, refined and re-defined, just so to make people's participation in the process of Government formation all that more meaningful. The point is whether the people of Manipur have been able to move along with the phases of change that this understanding has been undergoing. Is it going to be another exercise of deciding who should be given the mandate to lord or rule over us ? The ball is in the court of the people and it is upto them to decide which direction the ball should be played. Back to square one ? Move forward towards the goal line or kick in a self goal ? It is a duty on each one of us all to see how the ball is played. Line up outside the polling booth and choose wisely.

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