Itanagar: The ‘cash for vote syndrome’ begun a long time ago in Arunachal Pradesh and is an open secret, said Pradeep Kumar Behera, editor of local daily Arunachal Observer.
As per the senior journalist, the trend is not new in the frontier state. Behera has been covering state elections for close to four decades now.
Likewise, Dr Nani Bath, a political science professor at the Rajiv Gandhi University in Itanagar, admitted that money power has been misused in the state for a long time now and is one of the major reasons for under-development in the state.
Behera and Bath’s comments came close on the heels of election monitoring officials seizing cash amounting to Rs 1.8 crore from two vehicles in Pasighat in East Siang distrit.
In one vehicle, belonging to Christopher, the son of BJP candidate Dr D Perme, Rs 1 crore was found. The other vehicle, from which Rs 80 lakh was found, is registered in the name of the state government and deputed to a transport department official. The state-owned car was apparently being used by Ralom Borang, who is a former Congress MLA.
However, state additional chief election commissioner (CEO) Kanki Darang said, “No one has come up with an exact complaint regarding this matter. We are trying our best to ensure that there is not any inducement of voters by money power.”
Talking about increase in the sales of automobiles throughout the state before the elections, Behera pointed out that election monitoring officials and police have seized several four- and two-wheelers, besides seizing huge amount of cash in the past one month.
This, he opined, is all in relation to the ‘cash for votes’ syndrome which is openly practised in Arunachal and is a trend that comes to surface in every election that is carried out in the state.
The incident reflects not only the kind of mentality some people in the state have, but also reflects the competitive nature of elections in Arunachal, said Bath.
“We cannot blame an individual or institution. The blame has to be shared by all, especially by the system. Corrupt practices are carried out in various aspects and various fields. To stop the ‘cash for votes’ tendency during elections, we need to stop all these corrupt practices,” he said.
On actions against model code of conduct (MCC) offenders, Behera said, “According to my information there is case which has been going in the Kolkata High court for the last 175 years. What is the use of registering a case without taking any action?”
On the Pasighat cash seizure case, he said that there is every possibility that the case will go pending for a long time and the verdict could only come after the five year tenure of the legislators is over.
Bath was of the view that elections in the state are taking place not on the basis of ideology or political principles but on the basis of social orientations and re-orientations.
“And because of such social factors, clanism has become an important factor in winning and losing elections for a candidate and because of clan politics, violence has also started entering the electoral system of Arunachal Pradesh,” he said.
Speaking on the blatant killings of National People’s Party (NPP) and BJP workers by militants in the Tirap and Longding districts respectively, Behera said, “Election and campaigning related to it would eventually be over someday but what I don’t understand is why we are killing our own kind for the sake of the elections?”
Money and muscle power are being used for the elections and this trend should be stopped. Hopefully it will, when the people will start to understand the value of democracy, Behera said.
Meanwhile, the additional CEO said, “If you’ve got any complaints regarding distribution of money or any kind of fights in particular locations or anything that violated the model code of conduct (MCC), just ring up 1950.” Saying that particular centre will report it to police who are on duty, they’ll then report it to field surveillance team and they’ll just rush to that particular place.
Further, Darang said, there is another application – C Vigil or Citizens’ Vigilance. “If you find someone distributing money, one can make two minute videos or click pictures and upload them on the app. Within 5 minutes it’ll be seen at district election odashboard… even here at Nirvashan Bhavan, we’ll be able to see those reports and subsequently necessary actions will be taken,” he added.