A letter By Athouba Huidrom
In poll-bound Manipur, the high-pitch electoral campaign is gaining intensity by the day with several star campaigners, prominent leaders of various political parties, candidates engaging in public rallies and doing their bit to woo the voters in their respective constituencies. The door-to-door canvassing and virtual appeals to the voters also continue.
Distributing and promising freebies – from water containers to blankets, from scooty to laptops, and other daily needs are some of the talking points that Manipur has witnessed, probably, for the first time in this ensuing election. There are unconfirmed reports that parties have paid thousands of rupees to the voters to participate in rallies and meetings for particular candidates.
It’s also true that money plays a key role in most elections across the world. However, the particular reliance of political parties on candidates with huge personal wealth is quite a unique phenomenon. Despite a charade of limits of election expenditure by the ECI, spending by parties and candidates appears to be limitless. Indeed, related evidence suggests that a candidate must have (spent) at least Rs 15 crore in Manipur if he or she is to participate in the electoral fray.
However, contrary to the general practice or malpractices, there is still some good news that can perhaps save the beauty of democracy. That is, Th Brinda. Some call her the ‘supercop of Manipur’.
Since the day Brinda announced her resignation from the State police force to join in the electoral fray, thousands of people, especially youth, have come forward to join her campaign for a change.
Interestingly, as it is, while the other candidates spend or distribute lakhs of rupees to the voters, hundreds of people have come forward to donate money for her election campaign. Today, a group of her friends from college days – DM Sc – visited her and expressed their solidarity with her and offered unconditional support to her dream of a bright Manipur.
One of the most crucial and important issues Th Brinda brought in this time is “Fight for Future, Fight for Your Next Generation.”
She doesn’t have that kind of muscle and money power like her opponents. Yet, the support she receives from various sections of society, one hopes, will provide a new ray of hope for a broken society.
The writer is a Delhi-based senior journalist