Drive for fair polls in Meghalaya

Shillong, Nov. 11: Youths in Meghalaya are now taking the lead to counter the menace of money power during elections as the 2013 Assembly polls draw nearer.

Two seminars were conducted in the Khasi-Jaintia hills where the youths of the Khasi Jaintia Presbyterian Synod Sepngi have come together to work out a plan to ensure that candidates do not "purchase" votes in their pursuit to become lawmakers.

Yesterday, a seminar was held at Mawpat where preacher and social activist Rev. P.B.M. Basaiawmoit was the resource person. He had unsuccessfully contested the 2009 Lok Sabha polls on a HSPDP ticket.

Rev. Basaiawmoit spoke about the country's election laws like the Representation of Peoples Act apart from enlisting communal politics, partisan politics, and muscle and money power as the major hurdles in democracy. "The use of money power during polls derides the very idea of holding elections and reverses the principles of democracy. The ability to sway voters through the use of money only underscores the degradation of human values."

The activist also wondered from where the candidates garner so much wealth to spend during elections and how do they replenish their wealth. "Maybe they (candidates) can borrow in case they do not have ready money. But then they would also need to have an understanding with the creditors so that after they emerge victorious, they would shower all the contract work on them (creditors) for the rest of their five-year term," he said added.

Rev. Basaiawmoit said most of the candidates also have the tendency to join the ruling group after the elections leading to disarray and at times, instability in the political arena.

"Meghalaya is 40 years now, but still we do not have any policy and planning to fortify the citizens. Except for those policies and planning coming from Delhi, the state does not have anything of its own," he said.

Rev. Basaiawmoit said the main reason which makes the voters run after moneybags during elections was poverty.

"Many of those who are in the political arena do not want people to come out of poverty else they will not be able to purchase their way to the legislature."

He said the electorate should be enlightened about election laws like the model code of conduct, which is being promulgated by the Election Commission.

Rev. Basaiawmoit also exhorted the people to refrain from accepting any kind of aid before polls.

A similar seminar was also held in Sohiong village in East Khasi Hills on November 3.

Rev. Basaiawmoit said the Indigenous Biodiversity and Social Welfare Organisation, an NGO, would launch a statewide campaign against the use of money during elections.