TODAY -

Editorial of the week

POLL VIOLENCE
Courtesy: The Imphal Free Press 21 February, 2002

Contemplating the spate of election violence in the state, in a rather far-fetched way we are reminded of the wry dig literature Nobel laureate, VS Naipaul, took at the fatwa served on writer Salman Rushdie on account of his controversial book “Satanic Verses,” which allegedly blasphemed against prophet Mahammed. On being asked to comment on the plight of Rushdie, (whom he dismissively said he has heard of), he had quipped that a fatwa is also an extreme form of literary criticism. We need somewhat a parallel in the manner in which many underground organizations disowned all interest in the Indian elections, but all the same want to make sure no candidate they do not favor, win. If allegations are anything to go by, perhaps they are propping up candidates of their choices. In then same vein that Naipaul satirized the fatwa on Rushdie, perhaps we can deduce from our own circumstances that the underground organizations that proclaimed their lack of interest in the Indian elections are indeed very keenly following it and even trying to manipulate its results. As Shakespeare observed, “The lady doth protest too much.” And when the lady doth protest too much, she may harbour just the opposite feelings of her open protest towards the object of her protest.

The first phase was not free of violence, but by the standard of elections in the country, nothing grossly wrong can be said to have taken place. Things however are going a little out of hand at the moment in the hill which will got to polls tomorrow (February 21). Preventing campaigning and other election activities before the elections are one thing, but as per reports available with the press by late this evening, blatant riggings have already occurred in many polling stations in the Singhat area of the Churachandpur district. There was also an ambush on the polling personnel party in the Senapati district resulting human casualties. Since the elections have still not taken place, there is yet time to replace the rigged ballot boxes, but where is the guarantee that more will not happen in the course of the night and tomorrow. We have no intention of finger pointing at this moment. We understand very well the constraints, particularly of the availability of security personnel to give blanket coverage of the entire election process, but we do earnestly hope the elections do not end up derailed and the election authorities left with no means but to throw up their hands and watch helplessness. That would be such a pity indeed. Worse still, we hope the election authorities have not already given up, and are depending on prayer alone now. We do hope, besides the prayer, they swing into action to do whatever possible to concentrate the forces where they are most needed. One rotten apple can contaminate the whole basket, so no constituency must go without seeing the actual verdict of the people. As for those bent on sabotaging the election process, we wonder why they are so afraid of honest verdict of the people. If they are what they claim to be, and actually stand for the people, they should allow the people to make their own decisions on their future without any hindrance. And this not just in these elections, but whenever they are called upon to make vital decisions concerning their own future.


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