EDITORIAL: A Fresh Look At Democracy! Focusing On The Governed

Perhaps the time has come for a deeper and more comprehensive understanding of democracy for the situation in Manipur demands that we go beyond the “Government for the people, by the people and of the people,” understanding of democracy, with due respect to Abraham Lincoln. Democracy as we understand it in its classical sense has failed to deliver and nothing illustrates this better than the reverse gear that we find ourselves in today and a cursory look at the state of affairs in Manipur will leave no one in doubt that the slip between democracy in spirit and democracy in practice is getting more and more prominent with each passing year. The loophole is here, that is in our understanding and practice of democracy, and a total revamping of the system of governance that passes off as democracy is what the situation demands. The need is therefore to shift our focus from those who govern to those who are being governed for  it is now clear that solely looking up to those who govern to deliver has not worked at all.

Make the people more responsible, for they are central to all understanding of democracy, is therefore the slogan that should be imprinted in the consciousness of everyone, who is a stakeholder. A value system needs to be developed wherein the buck stops at the people and not those who were elected by them to govern. Our argument is simple and rests on the premise that the people who decide which political party should govern and which political leader should be elected must be made responsible for any mischief that their ‘ward’ may commit once in office. Such a system will concurrently serve two purposes. Apart from making the people more responsible during election time, it will also automatically render factors like muscle and money power redundant. This will also encourage or make it “mandatory” for the people to invest their time and mind in minutely studying and deciding their priorities.

At the risk of being dubbed Tuqlaqueness we would go so far as to suggest that the people should be made accountable for any acts of commission or omission committed by the politicians who they elect to office. If such a system comes to fruition then instead of a Kanimozhi cooling her heels behind bars, it would be the people who elected her in the first place. Apply that to Manipur and instead of Mr. Ibobi and his men being nailed to the cross for all the jokes being played on the people in the name of governance and developmental works, it will be their supporters who will have to face the trial by fire. Such a system will ensure that people who go by the name of the elected representatives will leave nothing to chance to live up to the name of their designations in letter and spirit and this is where we can expect things to gradually start falling into place. Who in his right mind would want to invite the collective wrath of the people, for in such a system there will be no room for playing favorites.   In short a sort of a revolution is what the situation warrants.

The honorable Mr. Ibobi, the Chief Minister of Manipur has been mauled, dragged over the fire, cursed and given all sorts of highly uncharitable nicknames, but yet he continues to go from strength to strength. Ditto too for the set of people who are at his beck and calling. Despite the corruption charges and the name calling associated with Mr. Ibobi, let’s not forget that it is the people who have given his Government such a huge mandate, in fact a record mandate in innings number II. The roller coaster ride of the Congress in the three by elections out of four held in the 9th Assembly only went on to add that air of invincibility around his persona and in the process the hushed voices of Rs 10 to 15 lakhs for the post of a Sub-Inspector, the alleged increase from 10 percent to 20 percent etc all fell by the wayside like nine pins.

From the accusations that decorated the construction of the BT Flyover, the land acquisition drive for setting up the High Court complex as well as the NIT, the new Assembly and Secretariat complex, for which work has been underway since 2004 to the thumping victory of the Congress in the just held election to the Imphal Municipal Council, all tell a story of the people talking in two tongues or hallucinating.  Today the Imphal Sewerage Project, which has been the bane of many motorists and the public at large for the last many years, stands on the brink of going down as yet another crippled creation of the State Government, much along the line of Khuga Multi-Purpose Project, which had to be commissioned without the power component!

Yet do not for a moment entertain the idea that it would shake the citadel of the SPF Government, for to the people, it is not how the Government functions that matter, but how they can benefit, individually during election time  or when the tender for a contract or supply work is going to be floated. We have taken the present Government as an example, as it is the most appropriate at the moment, and not for any axe grinding exercise. If this is how Manipur has been hopping from one failed mission to another, amid the sharp criticisms which at times border on the personal and are nothing less than punching below the belt, then what possibly is the remedy? The remedy or panacea is not blowing in the wind. It lies in making the people more responsible and what better way than to make them accountable for any mischief that their elected leaders may commit. For example, the voters of X Assembly Constituency may be given the marching order to the prison, in case their representative is caught with his finger in the loot. Extraordinary situation calls for extraordinary measures.

(Courtesy: Sangai Editorial)

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