Meghalaya was formed by carving out two districts from the State of Assam- The united Khasi-Jaintia Hills and the Garo Hills on January 21, 1972, mainly to empower the tribals and to restore the self-rule as they had their own kingdoms until they came under the British Administration in the 19th century. Similarly, the autonomous district council is to protect and conserve the tribals’ interest. But according to the outgoing Chief Executive Member (CEM) of the KHADC, Hispreaching Son Shylla, the recently concluded council elections exposed that only money power has played a role while the performance of the MDCs is not a pre – requisite to winning elections.
Besides Shylla, many thinker and political pundits have opined that Autonomous District Council (ADC) in Meghalaya, one of fourteen autonomous regions of India, is not at all fulfilling the local needs, rather it seems to have been created to fulfil the interest of a few affluent people and not for the welfare or benefit of the masses as pointed out by section of Traditional Khasi Chieftans.
As mentioned by Shylla while putting across his own observation about the money power playing vital role in the state election, he pointed out that winning the elections has no connection with performance, because out of eleven executive members who were part and parcel in the passing of many important Bills, only two could retain their respective seats. He said it seems that the electorate do not vote on the basis of performance but their vote depends on who can “distribute fruits” during the elections, adding it was good for him not to contest this time.
Such trend of the result, Shylla stated, clearly indicated that without money power, it is difficult to win elections whether in the Assembly or district council. It is a sad trend.
This newly formed Khasi Hills Autonomous District Council have elected some of the seasoned politician, which includes Martle N. Mukhim (HSPDP), Pynshngainlang N Syiem (NPP), Paul Lyngdoh (UDP) and others, hopefully it will once again raise the standard of debates in the council.
If the observation of Shylla is confirmed regarding the money power to win election in Meghalaya, as a veteran politician himself, who at one point was the Deputy Speaker of Meghalaya Legislative Assembly, than it seriously needs to be introspected if the 47 years old Meghalaya is fulfilling the very concept of self-governance, particularly in the ADC.
ADCs are supposed to protest and preserve the cultural practices of the indigenous tribal. If it is indeed turning into a non-performing council, it means the Hills State movement by the stalwarts who had sacrifices their youth for the present generation are wasted.
The state will be observing the Golden Jubilee of Statehood by 2022, yet the state or the ADCs have nothing to pride about as landmark infrastructure or landmark legislation. The state is simply maintaining the highways and road constructed by the British Raj, except some expansion or widening work, whereas most of the rural sectors are yet to be connected by road.
Electrification is said to have been covered in the state according to the official files, but at ground reality it is a different picture, above that, the electricity supply is disturbed throughout the year. Out of 32 drinking water supplying sources, 29 are not suitable for human consumption, agriculture sectors is consider as nil, health care is one of the most expensive services, these are just handful of many areas the state is yet to focus on.
Shylla, who has brought about various reforms, should now move the Election Commission of India, who only keep a check on Paid-news. He should suggest the Commission to quote a realistic ceiling for expenditure, to eradicate malpractices, then critically check the expenditure report being submitted by the candidates by collaborating with video recording. If his observation just ends in briefing the media, than it is like the Paper Tiger. He needs to document all his claims and present them to the Commission for a change and to have cleaner elections to come.