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Elders journey to past polls

Shillong, April 9: The headman of Mawlai Mawdatbaki had voted in several Lok Sabha elections besides Assembly and autonomous district council polls.

B.R. Kharmujai, 79, one of the longest serving headmen, said he started to vote in the Lok Sabha elections when Bonily Khongmen was elected as the first woman MP from the Northeast. Khongmen was elected to Lok Sabha from then Autonomous District constituency of Assam in 1952 and became member of the first Lok Sabha.

Khongmen was also the Deputy Speaker in Assam Assembly.

Kharmujai, who has witnessed many transitions as far election campaigns are concerned, recalled the absence of money power in the past elections when, unlike today, people hardly met or could see candidates contesting Lok Sabha polls or meet an MP.

“When we were young, I remember that candidates got money from people even to organise a tea party on the polling day. But now, the trend has changed as candidates have to spend and people nowadays even expect something from the candidates before deciding to cast their votes.”

The septuagenarian said any election, especially the ones to the Lok Sabha, is “very important” because the state has to elect a representative who can make his voice heard in Parliament.

“Without election we will have no representative and without a representative who will address people’s concern? To say, no need to vote in MP elections is wrong.”

Kharmujai said he expected to see a good parliamentarian who can take part in the debates and be assertive in Parliament.

“You have to have tricks and establish good relationship with other MPs as well besides a strong lobby so that you will not be alone in a 543-member House, especially when you need good support on any issue you pursue,” the headman said.

Kharmujai recalled the days of Prof. G.G. Swell, who despite being a lone MP of then All Party Hill Leaders’ Conference (APHLC) from the Shillong seat, could speak loudly in Parliament and then became Deputy Speaker in the Lok Sabha because of his calibre. M. Nongrum, an octogenarian, came walking to a polling booth at Mawkhar here with the help of her relatives and cast what she called her “precious vote” in favour of a candidate of her choice.

For this 83-year-old grandmother, every election is important for every eligible voter.

“In a democratic country like India, it is through elections that people can elect a representative who should take up issues affecting them and voice their concerns. Who will take up issues if we have no representative and all think that election is not necessary! I voted in all elections and expect the representatives to perform their duty well,” she said.

Young Eufynea Shadap who voted for the first time in this Lok Sabha election exercised her right to franchise with lot of excitement and high expectations from the candidate who will be elected as an MP.

“Every vote is precious, that is why I decided to vote especially for the first time in this Lok Sabha elections. I hope we will get a good parliamentarian who can take up issues concerning us tribals whose identity is on the verge of extinction. As one of the minority tribes, our identity has to be protected from the onslaught of influx. I want the issue related to inner-line permit to be taken up in Parliament by our MP as well,” Shadap said.

She said a parliamentarian should perform his or her duty well and work sincerely for the people.


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