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Friday, May 24, 2024

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Friday, May 24, 2024

Not money for votes, please


Elections are round the corner. The aura has started to spread high and low.

As a responsible citizen, I am excited to exercise my voting right for the third time, and I am also keen to know what type of government 2023 will give us.

The official pre-political campaign is expected to start soon. I am pleased to report that no candidates have ever shown up at our door with cash in the past. This is a democracy, and this is how it ought to be, and should continue to be in the future.

However, I have heard stories from fellow counterparts that their candidates offered them money. This did surprise me in the past when I didn’t much comprehend the game of politics. As I came of age, I learned the refined meaning of “politics”. As a young boy in my 20s, I have always been neutral and stood firm on my ground.

Last week, I had an opportunity to have a tete-a-tete with a politician’s wife, who, in fact, is not at all interested in politics. I think having a spouse with no interest in politics when you’re in politics is a plus point because you’d only end up talking about it rather than focusing on your kids or family matters. As straightforward as I always am, I mentioned: “If any candidate drops by my house seeking votes, I’d gladly welcome them.” However, assuming I am offered 5000, I would right away oddball it. I would rather place my numbers and ask the candidate to at least give me 30L in cash (five years of income). If he can’t, then he can quietly reclaim his 5000 and leave, because I am a responsible Indian citizen and I shall exercise my voting rights whether I am or am not offered the cash”. This was what I said that left my friend speechless.

Why can’t elections just be elections? Fair and square with no money involved? Why do you have to have a crore(s) to contest an election? This looks like elections are for the rich only. This looks like if you are to be a leader, you need to be rich. When was wealth equal to leadership?

Leaders can be anyone with leadership skills, regardless of their riches.

Let me cite an example. We have all had good teachers and bad teachers. Good teachers don’t necessarily have to have high qualifications such as B.Ed or M.Ed, and bad teachers don’t necessarily have to be graduates only. I have first-hand experience that a XIIth-passed teacher can teach pretty well compared to a B.Ed-passed teacher. Here, qualification is secondary but teaching skills are primary and of paramount importance. Similarly, in politics, we don’t need a wealthy politician to be a leader, but one with skills.

When it comes to electing a representative, we as educated youths must look beyond the horizon. He’s our voice and our leader. We should shape the eventual fate of our country by being insightful.

Accept no money. Cast your vote.

Emidao Shylla

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