Four months back, in November 2022, this column saw a piece titled ‘Toothless,’ which dwelled on elections juxtaposed with the obvious non-existent enforcement of electoral norms in Nagaland. It was at a time when the powers that be painted an uncertain prospect, as far as the conduct of elections was concerned. Despite the parade of uncertainty, canvassing was on behind the scenes. It was fairly obvious that the elections would go ahead as scheduled, in the usual contaminated format. It did and they way it panned out did not surprise anyone.
The unconcern and the treating of the unfair means as a normal phenomenon by the people, in the face of a Clean Election Campaign, were certainly depressing.
Another disappointing aspect was the half-hearted treatment of the elections by the Election authority. A ‘get over with it’ vibe was clearly palpable, projecting an image of a Constitutional entity that was there to merely see through a formality.
The said laid-back approach was visible in the way it chose to avoid suo moto actions, while expecting complaints to come knocking; as was the case with the alleged postal ballot-buying incident in Wokha and the several cases of violent confrontations, including a murder in Mokokchung, which occurred in the lead up to the polls.
One could not help but notice the same attitude on the polling day, an allegedly “great exercise of democracy,” a day, marred by large-scale proxy-voting, belying the notion of a free and fair democratic process.
The statement from the Election authority after the closing of polling did nothing but cement this notion. To them, the day passed off quite peacefully, barring some incidents; a day in which four incidents of gunfire were officially recorded in Wokha and Zunheboto, wounding two individuals, besides one stone-pelting incident in Mon. There were incidents in Tseminyu, Mokokchung and other districts but details of which were not put on official record.
To them, the incidents were no more than “skirmishes and heated exchanges” between supporters of rival political parties. “There were some incidents but because of the prompt action by our police and the other security agencies and the district administrations the situation was brought under control,” was the CEO’s remark.
What was also not addressed was the booth capturing and proxy-voting reported from across the state.
The Election office did inform that Rs 35,79,49,059 in cash was confiscated and some “2900 trouble makers bound down” when the Model Code of Conduct was in effect. A good statistical figure, but the more important point missing was the source and origin of the cash and to which candidates the so called trouble makers owed allegiance to.
The way the elections played out and culminated was clearly not “alright” as claimed by the Election office at the press conference on March 2.
The writer is a Principal Correspondent at The Morung Express. Comments can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org