It is final now; the total numbers of candidate contesting the February 27, Meghalaya Election is 370 and for the first time in the history of the state with a matrilineal lineage culture; of the 370 there is an increasing numbers of 33 women candidates in the fray. The Congress has fielded candidates to contest all the 60 seats in the house, the NPP 52, the BJP 47, UDP 35, PDF 26, NCP 21 HSPDP 13, KHNAM 8 and GNC 6 and the 85 other candidates are contesting as independent candidates. Considering the fact that the major regional parties already have a pre-poll alliance; therefore the UDP, the HSPDP and GNC together are contesting 54 out of the 60 vacant seats in the august house.
Other parties too like Aam Aadmi Party, Lok Janshakti Party, All India Trinamool Congress, Republican Party of India (A) and the North East India Development Party have also fielded candidates in some assembly constituencies. This is an unusual election because we already have report of election related violence across the state. There was a violent attack on the brother of PN Syiem candidate from Mawsynram constituency in the East Khasi hills district; there were reports of election related violence in Nangbah village in the West Jaintia hills district, Sutnga village in the East Jaintia hills district and a live Chinese hand grenade was found from a spare tyre of a Bolero vehicle which belongs to Michael Pakyntein, a strong supporter of Congress candidate from Shillong West Constituency Mohendro Rapsang. There are also reported violence in the Garo hills regions.
Place like Sutnga already has a history of violence during the election; if the district administration in the area look at the election history in the district, one will find that the constituency particularly Sutnga witnessed similar violent incidents in the last 2013 election too.
The election this time is highly sensitive and respective district administration will have to be on high alert especially in the constituencies where there are reports of violence. But this election also marked the sharp rise in the numbers of cases where cash was confiscated from different individuals across the state despite the wide publicity of prohibition against carrying cash in the state beyond the permissible limit; yet the flying squad ceased cache of money from different parts of the state.
Despite the violence and the use of money power during election; there are still reasons to be optimistic about the future election in the state. The silver lining in the sky is the fact the certain community has initiated measure to help clean the election process in the state. Local committee like Dorbar Chnong Panaliar, Jowai has taken a bold step prohibiting carrying of voters from the different localities and villages which fall under the 2- Jowai constituency to the place where the candidate campaigns.
The practice now is that candidates irrespective of their parties ferry people every day from their respective places to wherever the candidate campaigns. In doing so, the candidates have to incur huge amount of money to hire cars and buses to ferry voters from their respective villages to the place of campaign. Right now candidates in Jaintia hill are hiring buses even from Assam and each candidate is hiring not less than 8 buses a day. Not allowing the candidates to bring voters to campaign will help minimise the expenditure the candidates have during the election because one can calculate how much it will cost the candidates to hire minimum eight buses a day for more than twenty days.
If all the Dorbar Chnong follows the footsteps of Panaliar then the candidate would not have to spend money on hiring buses and cars to ferry the voters from one place to another. When campaigners visit different places there is also the waste issue because after the campaign one will find that the place is littered from one end to another.
In spite of all the bad reports about the election campaign; there is always a ray of hope that change will take place and change can take place not because of the politicians but the initiative of the common people.
Mohrmen is a freelance writer and environment activist based in Jowai, Meghalaya. He can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org