TURA, March 05: Elections and money in the state of Meghalaya have not only become synonymous, but also a part of a cycle that appears once in five years.
The malaise in part is due to voters who seek money from candidates even for basic things like bus travel and fuel expect their representatives of being there for them with loads of cash and they partaking whatever they can lay their hands on.
A new candidate who requested anonymity revealed the extent of what people expect from candidates in what has now become a routine.
“Everyday hundreds of people would search for my house to pay a visit. Initially I was very happy about the whole thing. However when they began talking, they only spoke of their problems like children’s admission, sickness, money for food as if I am supposed to pay them for all their troubles. None of them came to ask me what I wanted to develop. Even when they were about to leave they kept asking for money for bus fare as if called them in the first place,” said the candidate.
The story is similar in most of the places where elections were held. Huge amounts of money were used to not only lure voters but voters themselves wanted to sell themselves to candidates paying the highest amounts. If some of the cases are true, the amount could go up to about Rs 15,000 per vote.
“What is the point of shouting for development when you have allowed corruption to come to your door step? The voters have no right to demand development when all they want is free money from the MLAs. Why do we blame the MLAs for not working for the people when they know that in the end all they have to do is spend money to win,” asked social activist, Maxbirth G Momin.
An MLA contestant conceded that he had paid money for votes but his rivals paid higher and thus he lost.
The sort of money power used in the just concluded elections can be gauged from the fact that some of the candidates, who were favourites to win, actually came second or third depending on the amount paid by their rivals. In fact bills ran into crores for such candidates and many of those who did not have the money just fell by the wayside.
“Those that win will of course make up for the losses they suffered in the coming 5 years and will be ready once again when their term is over. After all, we voters have created this vicious circle of selling ourselves to the highest bidder,” added Momin.
A former MLA from Garo Hills too conceded that money played a role in elections. “Our job is to keep our electorate happy or they will reject us. They only come to us for their personal issues and nothing to do with issues meant for all. If we don’t listen and help them, then we are rejected. If we give them what they want, they will be with us. Our hands in the matter are tied,” he conceded.