Political parties contesting in the election to Meghalaya Legislative Assembly are challenging one another as the one (and the only one) party which can bring change in the state. All political parties claim to be the agent of change; if they are voted to power.
Almost all parties joining the fray in the state promised their electorate to change Meghalaya in the next five years; as if there is a magic wand to do the job. The pertinent question that begs the answer is; are the parties serious in calling for change or is the call just empty election rhetoric to fool the people?
Can any party (or for that matter alliance of parties) really bring change in the next five year? Or have the parties themselves initiated any change at all – to begin with? What have the parties done (internally) so far; which is worth calling change? Did the parties introduce any change at all since they made the clarion call to bring change in the state? The saying goes that if we want to see change; it must begin from oneself.
Let us now see if the parties have ushered any change at all in the ensuing election to the Meghalaya state Assembly? What are the internal changes that the parties have initiated? For the first time in the history of the state with a matrilineal lineage culture; out of the 370 there are 33 women candidates in the fray.
The question that we need to ask is; is this enough? It is indeed sad to note that in spite of the fact that there are more female than male voters in the state; yet there are only 33 women candidates contesting in the election this time. When the majority of the voters in the state are women; yet the political parties had only allotted ten percent of the tickets to female candidates.
In a state where majority communities follow matrilineal system where lineage is taken from the mother, only 10 percent of the candidates are women. This is also slap on the face of the community which claims to treat both men and women equally.
The Khasis, the Pnars and the Garos which are the major tribes in the state; claim that we give equal opportunity to women in the society but why very few women contest the election? What change have the parties initiated on this front when they are not even encouraging women to join the fray by allotting more tickets to women candidates?
When there are 70% percent more male candidates than females contesting in the election to the Meghalaya state Assembly; the question that begs the answer is; does that means male candidates have more winnability factors than the female candidates? Or is there gender-bias amongst the political parties too.
The people of Meghalaya need to ask themselves a difficult question as to why this is happening in a matrilineal society. Are we really giving equal right to the women in the society when we are not giving them equal representation in seat allotments? Or giving equal right to the fairer sex is mere gloss that the male section of the population would like to put on show; when in reality we are no different from any paternal society in the world.
The fact of the matter is except for the lineage and the responsibility of taking care of the children in case of a broken family, the status of women in the Khasi, Pnar and Garo society is no different from their counterpart which follows paternal and patriarchal system.
At least on this front there is no change at all so all the tall claims made by the political parties are empty rhetoric just to pull the wool over the electorates eyes. The people of the state still have a long way to go to fulfil its tall claim of being the only one of its kind society which gives women equal status with men. Hopefully more women will join the fray in the future elections; then the parties will be able to claim that they have brought some changes in the state.
Mohrmen is a freelance writer and environment activist based in Jowai, Meghalaya. He can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org