The next general election may be more than a year away, but hectic preparation for the same is going on at the every level. Contenders vying for party tickets are already busy making contacts to ensure they are allotted party tickets and at the party level negotiation is already going on to form pre-poll alliances and even merger like in the case of the UDP and the KHNAM. Well, as for the prospect of the merger of the main regional parties in the state; I can only say that it is not the first time that regional parties it the state enter into alliance or merged before the election and I will not be surprise if the supposed merger is not unanimous and new party may emerge out of nowhere.
Mergers or alliances are made with only one intention in mind and that is to grab power and more power after the election, the welfare of the people was never in the radar screen of our leaders when alliances were made in preparation for the election. To the question why is the proposed UDP-KHNAM merger hitting the rock? The answer to the question is again a glaring example of the fact that the leaders only think about themselves and not for the betterment of the party and the state. Leaders are not willing to sacrifice their personal interest for the sake of a united regional force, a force that the Congress party will have to reckon with. A united regional party will be able to help the state have a successful democracy. Ultimately the question in every leader’s mind; it is not what good can it brings to the state, but rather what’s in it for me? Politicians of every hue and colours share this common trait. In their order of priority; they would first look for what is of interest to them, then may be the interest of their relatives, friends, supporters and the last in their order of concerns is the public.
The more worrying trend in the state politics is the increasing number of businessmen joining politics. The tendency of rich people with little or no education joining politics which started in the Jaintia Hills District is now making inroad into the hallowed hall of the state assembly. If the government in both the state and the central government accord top priority to providing education to children; I don’t see any reason why we should not insist that candidates to the legislative assembly should at least be a degree holder from a recognized university. One’s worst fear is that the numbers of MLA with no university degree but plenty of money will only increase after the 2013 election.
There are two reasons which will help increase the numbers of rich people joining the state assembly, number one; the neo-rich with little education from Jaintia Hills has already occupied seats in the august assembly and their numbers will only increase. This brand of politicians has only one interest and that is to expand their business and being in power in the government will definitely help. This will only inspire more coal mine owners from other areas of the state to plunge into election fray and try their luck in the next general election because loss or win, they have nothing to lose. Don’t be surprise if a business tycoon from West Khasi Hills with lots of money and with little or no education; dare to take on the might of the alpha male lion right in the lion’s den. I don’t know much about West Khasi Hills but my guess is there are plenty rich-semi-literate potential candidates from the District who will try to buy their ways to the assembly. With forest cover dwindling in the West Khasi; it will not be surprise if the election 2013, will be the last time people will hear the lion roaring “ha u sing” in the last bastion of the lion (HSPDP)- the West Khasi Hills.
In Garo Hills too, coal mine owners or business tycoon will be inspired by their counterpart from Jaintia Hils and try their luck in the next Assembly election. While 2013 will be the time when the neo-rich from elsewhere in the state to test the water of state politics, for the rich, the semi-literate but powerful people of Jaintia hills; it is time to increase their power of influence and control. There is saying that does the round in the district now that, Jaintia will have 11 MLAs after the 2013 election. If you think that is absurd and ask how a district with 7 constituencies can to produce 11 MLAs? Well; if everything goes as the rich politician of the district planned, then there will be 11 MLAs of Jaintia origin representing the different constituencies of the state in the next assembly.
While the people are as usual busy with their daily chores and the election which is still about a year and three months away is not in their radar screen, the prospective candidates to the ensuing general election already has understanding and even made some arrangement among themselves. In the new reorganization of constituency Sniawbhalang Dhar new constituency includes new villages from Nartiang to Khanduli and Draison Kharshiing ex MDC and MLA from the area is expected to be a strong contender against Sniawbhalang, but the young rich politician already made sure of securing the seat by having an understanding with Draison. Kharshiing will no longer contest from this constituency and with the backing of the rich-man’s club in the district will now contest from Nongkrem constituency. As for ECB Bamon the lone NCP MLA who represent the area now and won the last election with the support of the same club, he has voluntarily run away from Nartiang and will now contest from Mowkaiaw/Laskein constituency. Even before anybody realized it, Sniawbhalang has already made sure that no strong contender is in the fray against him in the 2013 election.
If everything goes as planned Draison will be the 9 MLA from Jaintia hills but the 8 MLA from Jaintia is JU Nongrum MDC of JHADC who is going to contest from Sohryngkham/Mawryngkneng constituency. But the biggest gamble that the rich-man’s club of Jaintia hills made will be in the Umroi constituency. Ngeitlang who is Sniawbhalang Dhar’s elder brother and proprietor of N.Dhar Construction Company is planning to contest from this constituency. If we are to remind ourselves Ngeitlang was the person found with money in his possession somewhere in Umroi during the last bye election to the same constituency. He will be the tenth MLA from Jaintia hills and like Nehlang they both are non-matriculate.
But the eleventh MLA from Jaintia hills when the first analysis was done is Nehlang Lyngdoh MLA from Rymbai who will now contest from Umsning Constituency. Lyngdoh has decided not to contest from Rymbai/Khliehriat and another non-matriculate candidate and ex CEM of Jaintia Hills Autonomous District Council Hambertus Nongtdu who is also brother of another mining baron and owner of another construction company has declared to contest from the constituency. Unfortunately; many of the current non-graduate MLAs and even Minister from Jaintia Hills District are yet to make their maiden speech in the august house. So it is for the people to decide if they are going to let rich people with minimum education buy their way to the assembly. Should they vote to bring change or satisfied with keeping the change rich candidates dole out during election?
The good news is that a reliable source has confirmed that Nehlang Lyngdoh is going to quit politics and call it a day. It is good news precisely because it was ma Nehlang who had started the trend of rich man with little education contesting election; the trend has overwhelmed the JHADC hall and had even started to make inroad to the assembly. Ma Nehlang’s decision to retire from Politics will serve as a deterrent for other aspiring rich-semi-educated candidates to jump in the fray. By retiring, Nehlang is only stating the obvious fact that is does make a good business sense to invest lakhs and even crore of rupees to win an election. Nehlang is not doing himself a favour by joining politics, he stand to lose more by being a politician than by remaining a businessman. If he would have remain concentrated on his business he will still be the richest man, and his business will only grow exponentially but it took him ten years to realized that politics and business does not mix.
Ma Nehlang Lyngdoh is a good man and a good businessman and that does make him a good politician, one hopes that the rich prospective candidates with little or no education will realized before it is too late that it is not worth to waste money during election, it just don’t pay.