As a youth, we must understand the complexity of the issue happening in our beautiful State. We must dive deep into the core issue. We must not blindly follow what our elders are doing till now… To conserve our future, we must campaign for NOTA, until we find the right person.
By Loya-Ngamba Sapam
In the aftermath of the battle of Gettysburg, the American Civil War’s deadliest battle, Abraham Lincoln made an address contouring the ideal and mechanism of democracy. In his speech dedicated to the martyrs of soldiers, he famously pronounced democracy is a government “of the people, by the people and for the people”. His speech evoked the essence of the people in the democratic form of government. It clearly laid down the inevitable fabric that connects the government and its citizens. This fabric is not a mere superficial but rather, a deeply intertwined between the electors and their elected representatives in the nation’s assembly or parliament.
Loosening the fabric
The intertwined fabric, which is the basis for having a successful democracy, gets saggy or loosened up between the electors of Manipur and their elected representatives in both Houses of Parliament. The state has been reeling under the deadliest ethnic conflict in its history between the Meitei, a prominent valley-dweller, and the Kuki, one of the hill-dwellers. However, their elected representatives, who should convey people’s plight, remained mute not only in one session but in two consecutive sessions of the Parliament, both monsoon and winter sessions. It transpired when the people in the State protested, demanding to speak up and raise the issue of deleterious crisis to the Parliament. In some interviews, one elected representative claimed that he was being gagged by some externalities. So, he had to drop the people’s will to raise the matter to the Parliament. This not only disconnects limited to the state’s elected members of parliament (MPs) but also manifests among the other MPs as well.
The session adjourned several times in both Houses of Parliament, particularly the monsoon session, literally without any fruitful debate over the crisis in Manipur, even though the session was held at a time when there was a huge crisis in the state. The people were butchered, their bodies mutilated, women paraded naked and fueling hatred by the social media platforms. The lack of concerted efforts to have a debate in the Parliament reflects the tardy approach of elected MPs to contain the wildfire, particularly the MPs in the ruling party. This apathy makes the people in the State feel the wicked stepmother attitude of the parliament. This will prolong the wound of persistent unfair treatment and discrimination faced by the people of the North Eastern States of India, especially by the people of Manipur. In the long run, the unfair treatment of the Parliament will create resentment or bitterness among the people, particularly the youth affected by the crisis. It has seeded the plant of bitterness, which will further the regionalism and may pose a threat to the social and political integration of the nation. The already broken link between the electors and their elected MPs became widened due to ineffective and inefficient handling of crises by the governments at the Centre and State.
In fact, the inefficiency of BJP-led governments at the Centre and State has been credited for stretching the ethnic conflict. So far, the state government led by Biren Singh has not rolled out a specific policy approach to contain the crisis. Many lives would have been saved if the government deployed effective measures and strategies. The wound is deep but, the government is giving only the first aid. A crisis of such magnitude needs not only lip service but also concrete and well-laid-out plans. The policy must focus not only on short-term but also long-term strategies.
The NOTA campaign
When the people of the State were being beheaded, butchered, murdered, mutilated or women were raped and paraded naked, dishonoured their dignity, school kids were captured, tortured and even not able to find their dead bodies, the MPs in both Houses, both in government or Opposition, turned their blind eyes and didn’t turn up when people are asking for their help to resolve the crisis. Why should we still vote for merciless people? Why should we exercise our right guaranteed under Article 326 of the Indian Constitution to elect such a person who turned a blind eye during our needs? Moreover, reports have shown that 43% of MPs in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections were linked to criminal cases, why should we give power to people who committed crimes? We need to rethink our electoral choices. Isn’t it worth exercising our choice to NOTA rather than to merciless criminals? To conserve our future, we must campaign for NOTA, until we find the right person.
As a youth, we must understand the complexity of the issue happening in our beautiful State. We must dive deep into the core issue. We must not blindly follow what our elders are doing till now. The complexity will grow further if we don’t give thought to our choice of vote. It is time to question whether the candidate filing for MPs or state assembly is right or wrong, whether the candidate is coming to serve the people or harm the people, or whether she/he is coming to have personal gain or not and many more. We should ask as many questions as possible to make a correct decision. If we don’t find the right feat for our candidate, why don’t we go for NOTA? It is better to live in an ordered state, rather than to live in a state governed by merciless criminals. In addition to putting an end to community animosity, the collective “right decision” will inspire a new generation of leaders who will be able to carry out the wishes of the people.
(Loya-Ngamba Sapam is an alumnus of IIT Delhi and can be contacted at [email protected])