To Our Elected Legislators
Physical wealth & money are not the only valuable assets you have to earn. Once elected, you may strive to win the hearts of the electorate for all times to come.
By Seram Neken
Even though the ideal is considered as impossible to exist, we need to study it for certain reasons. First, a person can assess his/her own traits by comparing his characteristics with that of the ideal. Second, he/she can well imitate from the ideal as much as possible in order to be nearer to it. As the society will obviously prosper when the ideal and the real come closer to each other, it is our ardent task to study the ideal to bring about a desirable reality. Hence, it is right time to analyze the characteristics of an ideal representative.
LEADERS OR FOLLOWERS?
In principle, the elected representatives are not leaders, they are people’s servants. They are not
VIPs or VVIPs, as they themselves consider. They are people’s followers who are supposed to dedicate to the cause of their people. Public opinion, public welfare and public sentiment should lead their actions. However, in reality all elected representatives, after their elections from their respective constituencies, think themselves as leaders, VIPs or VVIPs or celebrities. They wrongly anticipate that people have to be under their command and they are leading the people.
COMPLETE CHANGE OF MINDSET
By 11th of this month, names of sixty persons who will represent the thirty three lakhs people of Manipur for the next five years will be officially known. Obviously, individuals from a variety of social, educational, economic and professional backgrounds will conglomerate and form the highest law making body of this state. Until and unless those elected representatives are able to change their previous mindset to suit the profession of a legislator, the society will still be in chaos. Before their elections to the legislative assembly, they might have been in different professions - such as teaching, business, social work, sports, executives, administrators, so on and so forth. But after their election as representatives of the people, they will be occupying the position of a legislator who has to acquire certain basic traits.
Everyone knows people from various professions contest elections. Businessmen, contractors, teachers, educationist, retired police officers, retired administrators, social activists from civil society bodies, student leaders, graduates, even illiterates, scholars and intellectuals, and even criminals, after their election from their respective assembly constituencies, will sit as legislators in the state assembly. It is highly recommended that they need complete change of their previous lifestyles, mindset and manner of work. Otherwise, the legislative body of which they are a part will lose its character.
As for instance, the intellectuals whose thinking and teaching could well influence the citizens, when elected as an MLA, have to become more practical and dynamic in their work. The contractors and businessmen, if elected as people’s representatives, have to shun the profit-making motives of their past professions, and learn to devote their efforts for the public cause. The retired police officers and administrators have to make efforts for more intimacy with the general people at the ground level. The uneducated and illiterate, if elected to power, must burn the midnight oil to learn the technicalities required for legislation. One of the most important traits required for elected legislators is that they have to be simpler, sacrificial and public spirited, as opposite to the VVIPism followed by most elected representatives.
AVOID PROFIT MOTIVE
A number of wealthy individuals, in the guise of social workers, come forward towards the electorate pledging to serve them by contesting in elections. The number of public spirited contestants is quite negligible. Qualified people are either not in the contest or unable to be elected, as election has become a competition for money. The foremost question normally asked to an emerging contestant by the society is ‘how much money do you have’. Wealth is wrongly considered as a basic qualification for any person aspiring for candidature. The social mindset is quite contradictory to the ideal required in a democracy. Our elected representatives have the responsibility to bring about a complete change of such social preoccupation. It may be suggested that once you are elected, you need to forget the expenses you have incurred in the election. Instead of trying to recoup the expenses, you need to win the hearts of the thousands of voters in your constituency by working sincerely, dedicatedly and efficiently. Next time, you won’t need any money to gain votes. The prevailing undesirable trend in elections can be changed when you avoid the profit making motive as a legislator.
CONTINUED PUBLIC SUPPORT
Be with your people for the whole tenure as you have been during the election campaigns, no voter will demand money from you in the next polls. Maintain continued proximity with your electors both physically and emotionally by shunning the VIP culture. Always remember that you are not a leader, you are not a VIP or you are not a celebrity. Instead treat your people at par with you and mingle with them for the next five years, work for them without any self-interest, there is no point you lose in the next election.
When the elected representatives coming from a variety of backgrounds are able to change their past mentality and attitude towards the people, quality politics and good governance will be visible.