As the dust settled after the polls on February 27, there was an air of uneasy calm in most constituencies across Mokokchung district. Despite the Election Commission dubbing it the ‘festival of democracy’, general elections in Nagaland are nothing to be looked forward to. Electoral violence, especially in Mokokchung, and all other forms of electoral malpractice are all too common here – so much so that they have now become perfectly normalized. In fact, those who abhor such practices are regarded as people who don’t know ‘politics’. The saddest part of it all is that, despite knowing fully well that electoral malpractice is rampant, the authorities who are actually responsible for checking it conveniently turn a blind eye. They know that all’s not well with the manner in which elections are held in Nagaland but still sweep it under the rug and make things appear like everything is alright. The authorities know more than anybody else that there are illegitimate electoral practices happening. Yet, they ignore it for reasons best known to them.
Meanwhile, as suggested by all exit polls, there is not going to be any change and the current dispensation will remain in power undisturbed. There will be some surprise results come March 2 but the NDPP-BJP alliance will return back to power in Kohima. Some big names might not make it while some unfamiliar faces could be elected to the legislative assembly. Most interestingly, there might even be a woman elected to the legislature this time around. The new government will be eventually sworn in and things will get back to the same old routine. People who were elected through dubious means will be accorded the kind of respect they do not deserve. The public will also return to their same old ways of complaining about corruption and the lack of development. The drama will go on until the next elections and the same episode of farcical drama of democracy will be repeated.
But then again, it is too much of an ask to expect clean elections in a society where most voters don’t know what they are voting for or why they are even voting in the first place. The only hope that remains now is that the church would not give up on its clean election movement. In fact, the kind of electoral malpractice that happened in this most recent election should embolden the church to pursue it even more vigorously. Five years is actually a long time, long enough to right a lot of wrongs. Apart from what it has been doing all along, the clean election movement can now come up with more concrete and decisive actions to not only campaign for clean elections but also fight against dirty elections. We are now back to square one.