Elections are over and there’s a peculiar calmness among the public. Whether it’s the clam before or after the storm it’s hard to differentiate. As the political skies clear on 23 May, 2019, for some it will bring respite and discomfort for some.

Social media, otherwise a powerful weapon of empowerment witnessed a consistent use for vested interests in promoting hatred between the followers of the parties. The toxic cycle of accusations continued and false news spread like wildfires.

Many Sikkimese are simply relieved that the ugly political slugfest is over. Despite many political parties fielding in their candidates and the independents proclaiming as political leaders, two major state parties i.e. the Sikkim Democratic Front (SDF) and Sikkim Krantikari Morcha (SKM) continued falling under the public radar due to their harsh political discourses. Be it calling names to putting accusations, the politicians left no stone unturned. The political war of words has left many Sikkimese wonder whether our politics has matured over the years or has turned puerile.

Social media, otherwise a powerful weapon of empowerment witnessed a consistent use for vested interests in promoting hatred between the followers of the parties. The toxic cycle of accusations continued and false news spread like wildfires.

An open channel of healthy communication between government and the opposition in the interest of the people, be it in assembly or parliament is the key for coming up with proper redressal of all issues.

Sikkim’s democracy is still young and needs to be carefully nurtured. The concern that emerges from the current political climate is that the urgent issues of the state are taking a backstage amidst politics being vitiated by petty issues.

The power struggle between the parties, SDF and SKM to be precise, through one upmanship and usually without a proper solution or redressal has kept the followers on a brink.

Democracy requires both the ruling and the opposition(s) to uphold the people’s mandate with utmost sincerity. For the government “my way or the highway” can lead to discontentment and for the opposition constant criticism without offering solutions can lead to obstruction in developmental process.

An open channel of healthy communication between government and the opposition in the interest of the people, be it in assembly or parliament is the key for coming up with proper redressal of all issues.

In the past, Sikkim has witnessed minimal political violence and this election was also a watershed of sorts with political parties exercising considerable restraint apart from some sporadic incidents. However, if there was no violence in physical sense the drama seemed to have moved to social media.

With fake accounts battling with each other on the online battleground, it’s seemed like to gain popularity one had to spew more toxicity.

The exceptional and commendable discipline that supporters of political parties showed on the field this election is somewhat clouded by the political rife over the virtual space.

These actions leave us with questions about whether the responsibility lie solely with the political parties to discipline their army or we as citizens harbouring partisan world view increasingly get blinded without recognising or tolerating the right of the ‘other’ to their own views?

The social media conflict is not yet over, the post-election social media activities may be lesser in magnitude than the pre-election but the ugly political slugfest is still on. Dedicated workers of political parties seems to be all time on social media creating their confirmation of forming the next government on May 23. The social media will never be called a responsible platform in Sikkim if the ways social media was used during the election 2019 is only considered.

Nitesh R Pradhan

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