The world’s biggest democratic exercise is about to take place again. A total of 543 seats spread across 78 states will be contested. Nagaland will go to poll on April 11, phase 1 of the seven-phase Lok Sabha battle with counting of votes to be done on May 23. This means voters in Nagaland have exactly 30 days to educate themselves about the contending candidates, the party they belong to, their stands on important public policies and their visions for the future.
A thickening fog of propaganda is about to hit and it is imperative that voters not take everything that candidates/parties spew at face value. Voters must arm themselves with knowledge by studying party manifestos, questioning the source and agenda of social media forwards, and most importantly learning the facts and figures about current and past governments. There are a number of think tanks that study and keep a track of the government’s performance and India’s social and economic status, with information readily available to voters. Opinions are objective, facts are not.
The maximum strength of the lower house allotted by the constitution of India is 552, currently it has 545 seats which include the 543 elected members and two nominated members of the Anglo Indian community by the president of India. In this sea of contested seats,
Nagaland has but one Lok Sabha seat and only one of the 60 state assembly seats is being contested. But in a democracy, every vote counts and can make a tidal wave of difference; it can shift decisions and alter futures. Issues critical to Nagaland and the Naga people as a whole, such as the much-awaited Naga Peace Accord and Citizen Amendment Bill are influenced by elected leaders.
To safeguard and elevate the lives of the current and future voters, it is time for voters to not just protest and moan but educate and empower themselves. To not let tribal or family affiliations, or monetary gain be the deciding factors but rather focus on making informed decisions. As John F Kennedy said, “Few will have the greatness to bend history itself, but each of us can work to change a small portion of events.” It is time to vote.