Home » Election ends, but fate of democracy is at stake

Election ends, but fate of democracy is at stake

by Rinku Khumukcham
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With the re-poll in 7 polling stations in five assembly constituencies today, voting in the sixty (60) assembly constituencies in the state of Manipur has been completed. The fate of the 265 candidates, who are in the fray, has been sealed in EVMs. And on March 10, Manipur will see a new government with the declaration of the election result.
But what fears the people is whether the forthcoming government will be able to uphold the democracy of the country or not, as the so-called festival of democracy was marred by rampant election-related violence, intimidations, money, and muscle power at almost all the 60 assembly constituencies. Almost all know that the election was not “free and fair”.
It is not the candidates alone who are to be blamed but the electors too are responsible if in case the Legislative members who are to be newly elected fail to uphold the spirit of democracy.
The 12th Manipur Legislative Assembly Election was conducted in two-phase along with four other states – Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Gao, and Uttarakhand. Voter turnout in the first phase election that was held on February 28 in 38 Assembly Constituencies was recorded to be 78.30%, while the voter turnout in the second phase election was recorded 76.62%, which is considered high when compared to other states. While the Chief Electoral Officer, Manipur called both the election was peaceful, re-poll was conducted in 12 polling stations of five Assembly Constituencies in three districts for the first phase election while re-polling in 7 polling stations of 5 Assembly constituencies of three districts has been ended on Tuesday. There were complaints of booth capturing at various assembly constituencies including the 2-Heingang Assembly constituency where Chief Minister N. Biren Singh had a straight fight with rival congress candidate. There were also complaints of EVMs being destroyed at 6 polling stations in Tengnoupal Assembly constituencies. There are also reports of armed rebel groups who are under Suspension of Operation supporting specific candidates of political parties. A press statement issued by Kuki rebel group KNO openly intimidated the voters of serious consequences if not voted for BJP. At Ukhrul assembly constituency, an angry mob clashed with cadres of NSCN-IM, which is currently engaging in peace talk with the government of India. The mob reportedly overturned a four-wheeler vehicle used by the NSCN-IM. Many voters in Wangjing-Tentha Assembly Constituency in Thoubal district said that they could not exercise their franchise due to intimidation by supporters of BJP and Congress candidates in their respective home polling stations. At Churachandpur district, cadres armed group ZRA assaulted 5 farmers for not voting for a specific political party.
On the day of the 2nd phase polling, 2 persons died in poll-related violence. One died in Senapati district in security firing after he tried to snatch EVM machine. A person who accompanied him also sustained injury in the firing. In another incident at Wangjing-Tentha a 25 years old boy died in the morning of March 5 after he was shot by miscreants. Earlier too, before the announcement of the election notification, a school-going boy who is not even enrolled in the electoral list was shot dead in poll-related violence.
At many constituencies in Imphal West and Imphal East districts, there are reports of bribing the voters by candidates. The highest rate of a voter reportedly reached Rs.7000/- at Mayang Imphal Assembly constituency and Rs. 5,000/- at Keishamthong Assembly constituency. A candidate in Keishamthong Assembly constituency reportedly paid Rs. 5,000/- each to around 15,000 voters. Total voter in this constituency is around 28,000 and the number of voters cast their vote was around 26,000.
Despite all the unwanted incidents election ended today with the re-polling in 7 polling stations. Now exit polls conducted by National media like – ABP C-voter, Republic TV, India Today, etc. suggested a BJP government here in the state in the 12th Manipur Legislative Assembly. Maybe the BJP reaches the mark to form the government, the question is how democratic will the government that was elected not by the mandate of the people but by force, money and gun. The election of the 12th Manipur Legislative Assembly was not a “free and fair” election but rather a corrupt and fair election. The fate of democracy is at stake if democratic elections are conducted this way.
The need of the hour is to look into the evidences of electoral malpractices not for who wins or looses but for the sake of a fast-dwindling site of electoral democracy in India by the Election Commission of India.
It is likely that there will be numerous petitions in the court of law from aggrieved parties and citizens. Maybe the judiciary can play it’s own role by contemplating on possible suo motto initiatives.

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Imphal Times is a daily English newspaper published in Imphal and is registered with Registrar of the Newspapers for India with Regd. No MANENG/2013/51092


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