Politics is still very backward in India. Laying foundation stones and inaugurating school buildings to bridges is still a phenomenon of pre-election activities. After five years, the political leaders want to remind the people of their existence. They want to convey the message that they are concerned about the people’s needs. Most of these activities are kept pending till a year before the election so that they are not wiped out of people’s memory; so that they don’t lose relevance. The plaques and ribbon cuttings are also an answer to questions of political rivals as to what the incumbent representatives have done in their tenures. The political leaders think – may be rightly so – such activities can cover up for all their misdeeds and inactions in the past five years.

The plaque-and-ribbon spree is back in Meghalaya, once again. Political leaders in the ruling side are utilising every little opportunity to make their faces visible. Hundreds of public functions are being organised at government cost ostensibly to fulfil their political objectives. Chief minister Mukul Sangma is leading the race. He is laying foundation stones of community halls. Even single ambulances are lucky to be launched by none other than the chief minister. He is also there in ‘dedicating’ foot bridges costing a few lakhs ‘to the people’. A few days ago, he was there in inauguration of community of rural development blocks across the state. He was also there in launching of agar and bamboo plantation projects in every nook and corner of Garo Hills, the region he belong to.

It seems the chief minister has very few deputies to do the inaugurations and foundation laying. Or he wants to send the message that it was only doing the ‘good work’? Or he does not trust his deputies on their ability to send the message to the public. Obviously, a fact that chief minister ‘gracing’ such functions gets maximum publicity has to be taken into political consideration. Any ruling MLA does not get similar coverage, even if he cuts the ribbon of a big project. But politicians should also keep in view the fact that people are much more aware than they were a few years ago. Most of them can see the real ‘objective’ of such activities before election. It’s time the politics graduated from such cliché and leaders don’t depend on stone plaques and ribbons to decide their political fate.

(Published as editorial in The Meghalaya Guardian on February 24, 2017)

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