Meghalaya govt tries to get voters singing to its tune

SHILLONG: There is a new kind of music in the air of Meghalaya, playing out the tune of the impending election. The state government has hit upon the innovative idea of luring voters through songs in music-loving Meghalaya.

"Kynmaw ko paralok, watla tang iwei tok, hynrei ka bor jong i ka khlain kum ka sngi (Remember it could be just one vote, but it is as powerful as the sun)," a local artist of repute, Adalyne Khonglam, lends her silken voice to these lyrics in a traditional Khasi tune set to the haunting strains of the indigenous instrument 'duitara'.

Pointing out the power of a single vote, which could "turn the world over" for an aspiring politician, the song urges all voters to exercise their franchise on February 23.

Here's another song produced by the state election department exhorting people to go out and vote: "Time to elect our representatives is near, appeal to all eligible voters, as responsible electorates, come forward and participate." The department has roped in Khasi music legend Headingson Ryntathiang to sing this song. So don't be surprised if you tune into All India Radio and hear Ryntathiang's baritone voice crooning "Young and old, all above 18 years, don't shy away... take part on election day...!"

Yet another election song, sung by AF Syiem, extols the virtues of democracy: "We live in a free country, a government based on ideas of democracy... participate for success of democracy... whom to elect, whom to reject, it's you who decides."

In fact, the state government has come up with a compact disc titled 'Your Vote Counts' in what is perhaps the first such election endeavour by a government department to use music to lure voters. The CD was conceptualized by state chief election officer (CEO) Prashant Kumar Naik, with the assistance of additional CEO Bhalang Dhar.

"The CD will be played by All India Radio, including its FM stations," said CEO Naik, adding that copies of the CD have also been provided to all booth-level officers to be played out on the public announcement system.

Informing that Meghalaya is the only state in the country where all election-related official activities are done "in house" and "nothing is outsourced", he said this ensures "better control" of the administration over the entire election process.