Come, come, good wine is a good familiar creature if it be well used; exclaim no more against it.
— William Shakespeare
Elections have become so intoxicating that one can become inebriated even without consuming a drop of alcohol!
The scent of absolute power appears to hold the candidates and their followers in its thrall.
On the other hand, complementing the use of money and muscle power by the contestants, the use of alcohol to lure voters can never be overlooked. Liquor barons and barrels are known to fetch handsome votes in this country, and the Northeast is no exception!
In Meghalaya, where Assembly polls are scheduled for February 23, police personnel have been busy busting liquor dens to ensure that the polls do not become a source of over-exuberance in this far-from-dry state.
On February 17, police conducted a raid at Sohiong village under East Khasi Hills and destroyed 10,000 litres of country liquor and 2,19,93 litres of Indian Made Foreign Liquor (IMFL). Eight persons were arrested.
Further, nine illicit liquor distilleries were destroyed at Mawkynthei locality under Sohiong and around 1,70,000 litres of country-made liquor was destroyed at the spot. Three persons were arrested.
Sohiong is also not just a village. It is an Assembly constituency where home minister H.D.R. Lyngdoh will be seeking re-election.
Lyngdoh, a Congress nominee, will have to surpass United Democratic Party (UDP) candidate Braston Kharphuli to retain the seat.
On February 17 night, police conducted a raid in the Lapalang area of Shillong and seized 20 litres of country liquor from the possession of Baiali Nongrum and 10,80 litres of IMFL from Raju Rana.
Two days prior to that, the police detected and seized 3.5 litres of IMFL from Bedila A. Sangma at Nangberam, Gabil and Wakok areas along NH 62 in East Garo Hills.
On February 13, a flying squad of Nongstoin constituency arrested Synsharlin S. Mawdoh at Nongs-pung village and seized 100 litres of country liquor from his possession.
In West Garo Hills, with the constitution of the District-Level Liquor Monitoring Committee, 19 raids were conducted by the flying squads and many others by the excise teams specially constituted for the purpose and several litres of illicit liquor were seized and destroyed.
These are just some of the cases which have come to light in the course of this year’s elections. Countless others go unreported. For the lingering chill of winter adds to the thrill of a tippler’s succumbing to the appeal of Bachchus.
To avoid an overdose of intoxication, February 20, 21, 22 and 23 have been declared “dry days” in this wet state. Woe to those who had planned on a booze-filled run-up to the weekend polls!
Even the day when the fate of the 345 candidates will be known, February 28, has been confirmed as a “dry day”.
Whether dry or drenched, or whether a candidate hopes to retain or wrest a seat, elections are indeed an intoxicating phase. But the level of drunken delight will surely be accelerated when the winner takes it all and raises the good cup in all-encompassing cheers!