With less than 40 days left for the Assembly polls in Meghalaya, people of the state are anxiously waiting for the day they will push the button to vote for the candidate of their choice. (Meghalaya will go to polls on February 27)
But the question at this point of time is what is it at that the people look at when they vote for a candidate? What are their hope(s) or expectation(s)? Or why do they even vote at all? Although there are no want of issues which demand immediate address by the ensuing government; yet people in Meghalaya votes for different reasons.
The status of education in Meghalaya still left much to be desired. At the Lower Primary level most of the buildings in the rural areas; except for those run under SSA mission, are in a dilapidated condition. Lack of sufficient classrooms is another problem that most LP schools face now; even those run under the SSA mission.
There are plenty of colleges in towns to cater to the higher education need of the people in the urban areas of the state, but even in some district headquarters; there are still no colleges which offers even mainstream degree courses.
Most of these colleges are run by NGOs which comprises of those run by the churches and the community. Higher education, therefore, become expensive which is beyond the reach of the poor. All the colleges provide mainstream courses like Arts, Science and Commerce and the existing engineering and medical colleges are all central government sponsored projects.
The state is yet to have its own technical college and medical college and for skill training there are not enough ITIs or Polytechnic to cater to the mounting need of the growing young population of the state. Add to that; the trainings is being provided only on common trade like electrical wiring, welder, motor mechanic, beauticians, tailoring etc. No trainings are provided on agriculture related skills nor is there any training on livestock management which is the need of the hour.
Healthcare is another major problem in the state; even the Community Health Centres in the villages does have the required specialist as mandated by the Indian Public Health Standard Guidelines 2016.
The PHCs and Sub centres are run by a very limited staff and most of the time without medicines. The only health care facilities where the government can provide the required medical personnel to man are different civil hospital or district hospitals in the town and cities.
Agriculture which is the mainstay of the people in the rural areas of the state, has not given the required thrust. Animal husbandry does get the much needed attention and rearing animals in the state continue to be for sustenance only.
The quality of constructions of most of the roads is substandard. This has happened due to the politician-contractor nexus and in some cases the politicians are themselves contractors by proxy.
Apart from this, there are other factors which have direct impact on the voters to vote for any candidate and sometime it could be as flimsy as the mere fact that the candidate is from the same village, clan or even belong to same faith group.
Of late money has become a major factor which influences the direction the voters votes and candidates use money in many ways to influence the voters. To influence the voters candidates sponsor construction of roads, playgrounds and in some case even church buildings.
The expectations of the economically weaker section of the society are different. They need money to pay for their schools admission, buying books and exercise books. They also expect the candidates to help foot their pending medical bills and there are also those who expect that the candidate will sponsor their leisure trip and picnic.
Unfortunately these are the factors that could influence the voters to vote a candidate or a party and nothing else.
It is, therefore, impossible to expect any kind of change to happen this time around, and as long as money play a major role in influencing the voters, this state will not see any change and if at all there is any change it will be a change from bad to worse. It is, therefore, money and not the problems, is important in the elections in Meghalaya.
Mohrmen is a freelance writer and environment activist based in Jowai, Meghalaya. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org