Political Communication In Manipur Politics Essay

23 Mar 2015

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Before venturing into nature of political communication in the constituency under study, let us briefly examine the various technique employed by candidates or parties in sharing political information to the electorates in Manipur. There are different ways and techniques to influence the electorates. Political parties and other civil organisation had undertaken the task of political education to the electorates to uphold the principle of participatory democracy. As in any democratic society, the real political drama of the participants is expressed through the electoral behaviour of the mass voters whose decision is generally influenced by the political information imparted to them by candidates or parties.

Research conducted in various field of elections and politics in Manipur have analysed the technique of communication employed during election. [1] Most studies have outlined the major source of political information that witness during successive elections in Manipur. Here we briefly examine some of them.

Party Flags and Posters

the electoral activities in Manipur are associated with the party flags fluttering in different house tops. One starts gauging the popularity of the party or its candidate on the basis of competitive flag flying contest. [2] The supporters of the concerned candidates raise the respective party flags to create a visual impact. The electorates also receive political information through various posters pasted on public places, showing the candidate photograph, name and symbol of the party. The use of flags and posters are an important ingredient of electoral information as these devices "assume greater importance because of widespread illiteracy among the electorate." [3] 

Door to door Canvassing

Another communication technique is that "the candidates along with their party workers usually indulge in door to door campaign in order to get votes." [4] The students and local voluntary organisation play a large part in moving from house to house. This method enables the candidate in fray, in particular and its supporters, in general to convince the voters more meaningfully as he/she has direct contact with the electorates. Participation in door-to-door campaigning is a more specific activity which perhaps indicates a higher degree of political involvement than mere canvassing on an ad-hoc basis. [5] 

Election Meeting

Among the various communication technique, election meetings has the highest impact. [6] For building a public image of the candidate nothing could be compared with well organised and well attended public meeting. [7] It provides a platform to the candidates or party for influencing the voters collectively and informing the same - the ideas, policies, programmes, of political parties as well as of the candidates' personal aspirations and desire. It is for this reason that "an effort is made to mobilise a large number of people to attain public meeting as possible." [8] Therefore, it serves as a very effective source of political information to the electorates.

Election Procession or Rally

Election procession or rally is treated as a close ally of election meetings in intent and purpose. It has been an important medium in imparting political information to the electorates especially in the valleys of Manipur and is organized just before a week before the election date. Its main aim is to demonstrate the overall strength of the candidates in fray. In the procession, supporters usually carry flags, festoons, posters, manifesto, etc., of the party or candidate and appealed to voters to vote for their respective candidate. However, the association of the electorates with such processions is "an index or his interest, if not of involvement in election politics." [9] 

Mass Media

Politician irrespective of party affiliations "communicates to the public mainly through the mass media" [10] such as newspapers, radio, television, etc. These are an important source of political information and have brought political party and politicians closer to the people. Almost every political party has its daily newspapers primarily catering to its clientals or members. [11] For instance, the Congress party propagates its view through 'Samata Patrika'; the 'Khalo' for Communist Party of India; the 'Ehou' for Manipur Peoples' Party, etc. As such political parties and candidates expressed their view points and thoughts through newspapers and serve as a medium of political information to the electorates.

Regarding the use of radio and television as a source of political information in Manipur, it was respectively introduced in 1995 assembly election and 1996 parliamentary election. Of late, both have assumed as an important source of information. Radio is the cheapest and the fastest and "the most popular medium of information in rural areas." [12] Television brings it all into the living room: the debates, the political advertisements, the daily news from the campaign trail, political discussion programmes, and most recently, political talk shows. [13] These two media try to play a role in civic education; they call on the public to participate in election, without being biased to a specific party. [14] Thus, the mass media have become an important instrument of influencing as well as of informing the voters, the measures adopted as to how government function, its merits and demerits to the electorates.

3.5. Political Communication in Oinam Assembly Constituency

The Oinam Assembly Constituency is predominantly rural. The only urban area in the constituency is the small town of Oinam. Political information in the constituency largely emanates from the informal face to face contact, [15] although with the advancement of science and technology, mass media like radio, newspapers, television etc., have assume as an important source of political information. [16] In order to ascertain the major source of political information in the constituency, four major mode of communication, that is, inter-personal, institutional, election specific and mass media, have been adopted for the study. For this, an open-ended questionnaire was conducted. The sample consists of 398 respondents randomly selected from those who resided in the constituency.

To influence the voters and get the desired election result involves all the components of a communication process as Lasswell (1948) described: "Who says what, to whom, in which channel, to whom, with what effect." [17] For proper communication between the electorates and the candidates, campaigning is essential in which a political message that the latter wants to share with the former is conveyed. this is also critical to the healthy and democratic society. One of the important elements of the campaign strategies employed by various candidates or parties is to demonstrate the real supporter behind the candidates or parties through engagement and mobilization of the mass electorates.

In the constituency under study, communication process takes on the basis of personal contact between the electorates and the candidates or its supporter or the like, though there is slight involvement of other means. Table 3.1 displays the various communication modes as cited by the respondent electorates of the Oinam assembly constituency. [18] 

Table 3.1

Political Communication: Voters source of information

Frequency

Percent

Valid Percent

Cumulative Percent

Valid

Inter-personal

130

32.7

32.7

32.7

Institutional

78

19.6

19.6

52.3

Election specific media

95

23.9

23.9

76.1

Mass-media

77

19.3

19.3

95.5

others

18

4.5

4.5

100.0

Total

398

100.0

100.0

The statistics displayed in Table 3.1, shows that about one-third of the sample electorate in the constituency, that is 33% had political information based on inter-personal sources of communication. While election specific media of information had an impact to around 24% of the sample respondent, 19% voters claimed that they had information from the mass-media. Institutional means had also helps in imparting political information to about 20% of the sample voters. The same Table also shows that 5% of the respondent voters failed to specify their sources of information in elections of the constituency. Also, Table 3.2, Table 3.3, Table 3.4, and Table 3.5 presents Crosstabulation by gender, age-group, economic and educational status with respect to various mode of communication as obtained from the questionnaire. In the pages that follow, we shall examine all sources of political information that are prevalent in the Oinam assembly constituency.

Table 3.2

Voters source of information * Gender Crosstabulation

Gender

Total

Male

Female

Voters source of information

Inter-personal

Count

57

73

130

% within Voters source of information

43.8%

56.2%

100.0%

% of Total

14.3%

18.3%

32.7%

Institutional

Count

45

33

78

% within Voters source of information

57.7%

42.3%

100.0%

% of Total

11.3%

8.3%

19.6%

Election specific media

Count

52

43

95

% within Voters source of information

54.7%

45.3%

100.0%

% of Total

13.1%

10.8%

23.9%

Mass-media

Count

37

40

77

% within Voters source of information

48.1%

51.9%

100.0%

% of Total

9.3%

10.1%

19.3%

others

Count

7

11

18

% within Voters source of information

38.9%

61.1%

100.0%

% of Total

1.8%

2.8%

4.5%

Total

Count

198

200

398

% within Voters source of information

49.7%

50.3%

100.0%

% of Total

49.7%

50.3%

100.0%

Table 3.3

Voters source of information * Age Group Crosstabulation

Age Group

Total

18-25

26-40

41-60

61 - above

Voters source of information

Inter-personal

Count

31

31

49

19

130

% within Voters source of information

23.8%

23.8%

37.7%

14.6%

100.0%

% of Total

7.8%

7.8%

12.3%

4.8%

32.7%

Institutional

Count

35

14

13

16

78

% within Voters source of information

44.9%

17.9%

16.7%

20.5%

100.0%

% of Total

8.8%

3.5%

3.3%

4.0%

19.6%

Election specific media

Count

25

30

18

22

95

% within Voters source of information

26.3%

31.6%

18.9%

23.2%

100.0%

% of Total

6.3%

7.5%

4.5%

5.5%

23.9%

Mass-media

Count

16

31

18

12

77

% within Voters source of information

20.8%

40.3%

23.4%

15.6%

100.0%

% of Total

4.0%

7.8%

4.5%

3.0%

19.3%

others

Count

4

7

3

4

18

% within Voters source of information

22.2%

38.9%

16.7%

22.2%

100.0%

% of Total

1.0%

1.8%

.8%

1.0%

4.5%

Total

Count

111

113

101

73

398

% within Voters source of information

27.9%

28.4%

25.4%

18.3%

100.0%

% of Total

27.9%

28.4%

25.4%

18.3%

100.0%

Table 3.4

Voters source of information * Economic Status Crosstabulation

Economic Status

Total

Low

Average

High

Voters source of information

Inter-personal

Count

56

40

34

130

% within Voters source of information

43.1%

30.8%

26.2%

100.0%

% of Total

14.1%

10.1%

8.5%

32.7%

Institutional

Count

24

22

32

78

% within Voters source of information

30.8%

28.2%

41.0%

100.0%

% of Total

6.0%

5.5%

8.0%

19.6%

Election specific media

Count

30

35

30

95

% within Voters source of information

31.6%

36.8%

31.6%

100.0%

% of Total

7.5%

8.8%

7.5%

23.9%

Mass-media

Count

35

30

12

77

% within Voters source of information

45.5%

39.0%

15.6%

100.0%

% of Total

8.8%

7.5%

3.0%

19.3%

others

Count

5

12

1

18

% within Voters source of information

27.8%

66.7%

5.6%

100.0%

% of Total

1.3%

3.0%

.3%

4.5%

Total

Count

150

139

109

398

% within Voters source of information

37.7%

34.9%

27.4%

100.0%

% of Total

37.7%

34.9%

27.4%

100.0%

Table 3.5

Voters source of information * Educational Status Crosstabulation

Educational Status

Total

Below Matric

Post Matric

Graduates

Post Graduate

Voters source of information

Inter-personal

Count

34

35

41

20

130

% within Voters source of information

26.2%

26.9%

31.5%

15.4%

100.0%

% of Total

8.5%

8.8%

10.3%

5.0%

32.7%

Institutional

Count

21

31

14

12

78

% within Voters source of information

26.9%

39.7%

17.9%

15.4%

100.0%

% of Total

5.3%

7.8%

3.5%

3.0%

19.6%

Election specific media

Count

23

40

21

11

95

% within Voters source of information

24.2%

42.1%

22.1%

11.6%

100.0%

% of Total

5.8%

10.1%

5.3%

2.8%

23.9%

Mass-media

Count

9

27

30

11

77

% within Voters source of information

11.7%

35.1%

39.0%

14.3%

100.0%

% of Total

2.3%

6.8%

7.5%

2.8%

19.3%

others

Count

7

4

3

4

18

% within Voters source of information

38.9%

22.2%

16.7%

22.2%

100.0%

% of Total

1.8%

1.0%

.8%

1.0%

4.5%

Total

Count

94

137

109

58

398

% within Voters source of information

23.6%

34.4%

27.4%

14.6%

100.0%

% of Total

23.6%

34.4%

27.4%

14.6%

100.0%

3.5.1. Inter-personal Mode of Communication:

Interpersonal political communication refers to that episode of political debate and discussion that take place between the non-elite members of a political society. It is well thought-out process, and includes actions like passing on and receiving information on political matters, exchanging numerous view-points about how they are to be evaluated, or attempting to persuade others of certain points of view-points. It is decentralized and uneven, and any particular content can be received by a small number of addresser but at the same time it has the capacity to expose to large number of people.

Participatory democratic electoral politics requires voters to be informed and aware of the significance and importance of their vote. It is also vital to be familiar with the values of political information generated in the society from the point of view of interpersonal communication. One of the basic reasons is despite the fact of being "word-of-mouth communication that occurs in face-to-face interaction between two or more individuals," [19] all discussion, either political or social is not the same. Indeed, conclusion drawn from socialization research indicates that inter-personal influence is a product of the intimacy and access within primary social groupings. [20] Campbell, Converse, Miller, and Stokes recognized the power of immediate social circles on the ways that persons perceive and acts in politics:

Not only does the individual absorb from his primary group the attitude that guides his behaviour; he often behaves politically as a self-conscious member of these groups, and his perception of their preferences can be of great importance for his own voting act. Our interview suggests that the dynamics of these face-to-face associations are capable of generating forces that may negate the force of the individual's own evaluations of the elements of politics. [21] 

Manza, Brooks, and Sauder, have put in a nutshell: "The basic idea is straightforward: Interactions with others enhance one's likelihood of political participation." [22] The reason being that the more people talk, the easier life is for them. However, such observation that refers only to the level of conversation may be over-simplistic. It makes a difference whether we chat to our family members or whether we talk to colleagues at work or neighbors across the fence, as the quality of the respective underlying relationships is not the same. Interaction with friends, but especially among family members are usually characterized by "intimacy, trust, respect, access, and mutual regard," [23] and are, without a shred of doubt, important in the voting act. Naturally the candidates are inclined on conveying political information to those persons, friends, elites, cognate relatives and the like who can both influence and mobilize the electors. Therefore, interpersonal media of communication assume as an important mechanism in informing the electorates. It perhaps represents "the traditional culture framework and idiom" [24] in imparting political information.

DeVito identified a primary principle of interpersonal communication as being that it is transactional. This means that interpersonal communication is "a process, an ongoing event; the elements are interdependent; each participant acts as a whole, not in isolated parts and pieces." [25] It is one kind of communication that the candidates, the candidates' assistants, and the voters can use to communicate with each other during election campaigns. Trent and Friedenberg (1995) illustrated the implications of the transactional principle of interpersonal communication for political communication as follows: [26] 

First, interpersonal communication is contextual. This means that actors will change their communicative styles if the context of communication changes. Second, this perspective suggests that each party to the transaction is simultaneously both a sender and a receiver of verbal and nonverbal messages. Third, each participant affects and is affected by the other. [27] 

Such mode of inter-personal communication can either be public or private. It can take place in the course of encounters between strangers, when no control can be exerted over the range of participants that share in the dialogue. Or it can occur between persons who are well acquainted if not intimately related to one another, in secluded spaces that are protected physically or at least through norms of courtesy against anyone entering who is not explicitly invited.

In the constituency under study, over one-third of the sample respondent among which 43% male and 56% female agreed to the fact that they had political communication from the interpersonal sources (Table 3.2). The voter in the age group of 41-60 years and the young voters, or perhaps the first time voters in the constituency are largely got their source of information from inter-personal source (Table 3.3). Also, 'low' income voters has the highest source of information from the inter-personal communication while the 'high' income voters got the least (Table 3.4) Further, educationally, 'post graduates' voters has the least source of communication from inter-personal relationship (Table 3.5). But, more importantly what kind of inter-personal source of communication is prevailed in the constituency is the mood point that needs to be addressed. For this, Table 3.6 displays the various inter-personal source of information as deemed important by the sample voters of Oinam Assembly constituency. [28] 

Table 3.6

Inter-personal Communication: Voters source of information

Frequency

Percent

Valid Percent

Cumulative Percent

Valid

Family

35

8.8

26.9

26.9

Immediate Relatives

27

6.8

20.8

47.7

Clan and kinship relations

20

5.0

15.4

63.1

Friends

15

3.8

11.5

74.6

Neighbours

14

3.5

10.8

85.4

Local elites

13

3.3

10.0

95.4

Others

6

1.5

4.6

100.0

Total

130

32.7

100.0

Missing

System

268

67.3

Total

398

100.0

From Table 3.6 it is noticed that as to the main source of inter-personal political communication of the respondents, it seems the formal or informal conversation within family members (27%) act as a major source of information during the electoral process. This is because of the fact that the primary group has always been known to be an important source of information, especially among the rural people. The information emanated within the family setting has the highest impact among the sample respondents as, "the family is, perhaps, the universal social institution - present throughout history in widely ranging cultural setting." [29] It is also a major source of influence on the behaviour of its members in the context of inter-personal communication. The decisions about voting a particular candidate or party in an election are decisions usually made within the context of a family setting. Therefore, the family is also a prime target for candidates and parties or poll campaigner in the constituency's electoral process. [30] 

In the constituency, close relatives also act as a source of information of about 21% of the sample respondents. That is to say, in election between competing candidates, the most important role of the candidates in fray and political campaigners is to influence their immediate relatives and create a support base of respective candidates before they campaign for other voters. Further, the constituency being a traditional patriarchal society where traditional social structure still predominates, "clans and kinship relations also play a major role in the political life of the people in the constituency." [31] The clan and kinship provide electoral information to about 15% of the sample respondents.

Moreover, friends also play an important role as a source of political information. Friendships are key components of social networks, generating a series of direct, frequent, voluntary, and purposeful interactions. [32] The same age-groups, colleagues, co-workers and employees of the same office, have warm attachment of ties amongst themselves. Friends variably affect each other's political preferences by reinforcing or challenging current views on parties, politicians, and policy issues. [33] As such, discussion among friends leads to accumulation of greater amount of political knowledge and it has more impact to the female than the male voters in the constituency. [34] 

Furthermore, about 11% of the respondents obtained their political information from neighbours. The fact that, neighborhoods are places where people hear information and opinions that are likely to be different than those that hear in the family and therefore act as a source of information to the voters. This social environment can affect an individual in many ways, and that societal communication between individuals in relatively small groups, or 'neighborhoods' is natural for interaction to take place before and during elections. Huckfeldt (1979) says: "…the neighborhood environment is a relatively constant and inescapable source of political and social stimuli." [35] In rural societies, neighbourhood has intimate and primary relationship. Its significance in rural community is so immense that persons who have everyday quarrels with their neighbours are generally look-down by the society and it is considered that neighbours cannot be trusted. In the present constituency the bond linking neighbours are so close that what is considered confidential by a particular family today is known to its neighbours in the next day. [36] Also, the local elites like tall government employee, landlords, entrepreneur, etc., in the constituency, though not, as influential as, family or relatives also helps to draw the attention of the voters in a significant way. These elites also impart political information to around 10% of the respondent voters.

From the above observation it is evident that among the inter-personal source of information, the family and their immediate play much more important part in imparting meaningful political information than political conversation with clan and kinship, friends, neighbours, and local elite. The constituency, being a rural patriarchal society and where traditional social structure still predominates, majority of the voters are inclined to take voting decision based either on the suggestion of the head of the family or close relatives.

3.5.2. Institutional Mode of Communication

Institutions such as political parties, meira paibis, clubs or association and also government agencies help in imparting political information to the electorate. They play the role of educating the electorate on social and political issues facing the society and inform citizens about various developmental works being undertaken in the constituency.

The institutional mode of political communications has its share of about 20% of the sample respondents as a medium of communication in the constituency (Table 3.1). The male voter in the constituency draws more political information as regard institutional mode of communication as compared to their female counterpart (Table 3.2). The voters between the age group of 18-25 years have the highest source of information from institutional means of communication (Table 3.3). Also likewise, from Table 3.4 and 3.5, economically and educationally respectively, it is found that 'high' income voters and 'post matric' voters derived much of their political electoral information from institutional mode of communication. Table 3.7 displays the various institutional medium of communication cited by respondents as most important in the constituency. [37] 

Table 3.7

Institutional Communication: Voters source of information

Frequency

Percent

Valid Percent

Cumulative Percent

Valid

Political parties

28

7.0

35.9

35.9

Local Clubs

17

4.3

21.8

57.7

Meira paibis

15

3.8

19.2

76.9

Others

18

4.5

23.1

100.0

Total

78

19.6

100.0

Missing

System

320

80.4

Total

398

100.0

From the data in Table 3.7 it is noticed that political parties (37%) acts as major source of information provider in the constituency followed by local clubs (22) and meira paibis (19%). [38] That is to say, political parties have been an instrument for communication; and exchanging of political information with the mass electorate, and that political parties have been involved in close relationships with voters during and after elections. With the general development of political parties in the 20th century towards more open and professionally driven structures, it is widely agreed that long established links - like those between social democratic parties and trade unions - have declined in many cases. [39] Now the relationship has directly shifted with the mass voters at the grassroots level through democratization of party system. Therefore, political parties have undertaken the task of political education of the electorate across democracies around the globe.

Further, the local clubs, in the constituency constitute yet another major source of political information to the electorates. Its role is understandable from the fact that clubs are "an association of two or more people united by a common interest or goals." [40] These organizations extend their cooperation in the registration of new voters, its correction and updating of the electoral rolls in the constituency. They undertook the task of wall writings the names of the contesting candidate whom they support, name of the party and their symbols etc., were printed on the walls of buildings, waiting sheds, shops etc. They also put up the flags and posters of the candidate at different public places to create a visual impact on the mass voters. Sometimes, rival candidates supporters rip up the posters and flags of other contestants. The same strategy is being employed by students and other voluntary organization in the constituency.

Also, forceful traditional institutions such as the Meira paibis in electoral communication cannot be overlooked. They invoke attention to both the electorates and candidates alike as they are formed by "women folk of each household, to be the guardian of the civil society." [41] The manipuri women are "known for their active participation in the social, economic, cultural and political life of the state." [42] The meira paibis, irrespective of their class and status, constitute an important source of political information as they have been advocating grassroots issues such alcoholism and other forms of social ills thereby shaping the electoral behaviour of the electors. That female population constitutes more than half of the total electorates in the constituency and usually play important role in the decision-making process of the constituency. However, women voters are prone to be influenced by the male members of the family to caste in favour of candidates on the latter's choice, in which female members have the least to say.

3.5.3. Election Campaign Communication

An election campaign involves intense exchange of political information either between parties or their candidates in fray, and has been a powerful tool to inform voters about their positions. For voters, campaigns are opportunities to gather politically relevant information that can make them well-informed choices. [43] Most typologies of political information [44] distinguish between general political information and campaign-specific information. First, voters' knowledge about parties and their candidates, and more importantly their issue positions are information registered during the course of a campaign indicating the level of voters "political awareness," a concept Zaller (1991) applies to voters' aptitude and motivation for absorbing information during campaigns. [45] and secondly, general political information are those information gains in specific contexts such as elections, [46] mainly dealing with what voters learn about parties' position and their candidates on various issues during election campaigns. Therefore, the peculiarity between general and campaign-specific information is essential to the assessment of election campaigns as, in both cases, information are imparted to the electorate at large.

Election campaigns and information campaigns are increasingly being conceptualized in similar ways. Holbrook (2002), for example, identifies election campaigns as a particular type of information campaign, [47] while Zaller (1989) views election campaigns as the encounter of information flows resulting from the rivalry between rival information campaigns. [48] According to Converse (1962), campaign specific information entails tapping "all the intake of political information from our respondents during any political campaign." [49] 

In the constituency, elections campaigns help acquire information to about 24% of the sample respondents. Table 3.8 displays the voters' sources of political information during election campaign, in the Oinam assembly constituency. [50] 

Table 3.8

Election campaign Communication: Voters source of information

Frequency

Percent

Valid Percent

Cumulative Percent

Valid

Election meetings

20

5.0

21.1

21.1

Rally and procession

14

3.5

14.7

35.8

Personal Contact and Door-to-door canvass

22

5.5

23.2

58.9

Party workers

18

4.5

18.9

77.9

Political campaigner

14

3.5

14.7

92.6

Posters War

7

1.8

7.4

100.0

Total

95

23.9

100.0

Missing

System

303

76.1

Total

398

100.0

Among the campaign communication particularly during election it is the personal contact or door-door canvassing that act as the highest source of information in the constituency. Of the total respondents who have cited election campaign as the source of information, about 23% respondent agreed to it. Personal contact acts as source of information and influence among the electors with certain pre-conditions or promises that generally accompanied with such personal contact. [51] The technique of personal contact with the voters is superior in its effectiveness and precision to other techniques because it imparts a personal touch to campaigning, [52] and "many arguments might be advanced that could never be made publicly." [53] The candidate make 'private promises' to the voters while in personal contacts and through the contacts, the candidates also made "many private and implicit appeals" [54] to the voters.

One very effective method in such personal contact is the door-to-door canvassing in which "the candidates themselves move from door-to-door to canvass in their favour." [55] As a result, the candidate themselves becomes the source of political information to the mass electorate. Analyzing the role of candidates in Jordanian electoral process, Suleiman Sweiss writes:

The process begins openly, as some individuals, especially candidates who start from zero or close to zero, prefer to declare their candidacies months or even years before the election campaign begins. They begin to work to intensify their presence in society and improve their links with the public, especially by making visits of condolence and presenting congratulations and perhaps gifts at occasions such as weddings. The 'candidate' begins to show concern by attending and participating in public meetings, whether of a political, religious, cultural or sporting nature. Perhaps he or she donates money to a club or association in his constituency. Some 'candidates' already enjoy a political and social presence as they are known and active in various arenas. If they do already have such a presence, they pay more attention to contacting citizens and participating in public activities. [56] 

These features can also be attributed to the constituency under study. Such contacts also become the main source of information to the voters about the intentions of the candidates in the election process. It is also true that there are some voters who tend to support those candidates only when a formal relation is established between them. Therefore, some kind of genuine fraternisation takes place in this face-to-face contact between the contestants and the electorate. [57] In the constituency, the female voters are more exposed to inter-personal communication than the male voters. This is perhaps because of the fact that female members are predominantly engaged in household activities, and are less involved in the political process of the constituency. [58] 

However, certain complexities do arise in such personal contact as S.P. Verma, et. al., have pointed out:

... but due to the size of the electorate and its scattered character, limited resources in terms of time and money at the disposal of the candidates and the difficulties of the means of communication, it is not possible to make use of this technique in wider scale. [59] 

Thus, it is not possible for the contesting candidates to interact with each and every individual voter. So, in addition to personal contact as a method of election campaign communication in the political sphere of the Oinam assembly constituency, it becomes imperative for the contesting candidates to avail other means for imparting political information to the electorate.

Election meeting act as a source of information to about 21% of the sample respondents. Such meetings are usually done to promote the electoral prospect of political candidate in particular or political parties in general. It may take place in a public place or at private premises. A public procession for election campaigning purposes is a form of election meeting, as is an exhibition organised with a view to promoting or prejudicing the election of a particular candidate or party. In addition to it, party workers also act as a source of information to about 19% of the respondents. Party workers, which are the backbone of the party's strength, play a significant role in imparting political information to the electorate. They highlight the broad policies and programme of the party to elicit votes. The major objectives of party workers are - to influence as many electors as possible into their fold; to identify the supporters of the party; recruiting them as volunteers; and raising public awareness to gather support for the candidate or his party. They are overwhelmingly male and comparatively young and provide enthusiastic participants in election rallies and processions organize election events, put-up posters and banners of the party or of the candidate, serve as polling agent on the election day.

The practice that is common among party workers is assisting voters by providing them with information on their serial number on the electoral list. However, party workers may attempt to discourage or misinform the electorates who they believe will be supporting candidates from other parties. Unless party workers are well trained, impartial in their advice towards supporters of all election contestants, and provided with accurate data, it can cause confusion among voters. [60] 

Further, Election rally and procession by supporter of candidates and parties during election seasons is another tool employed to impart information to the voters and contribute about 15% as a source of information. It is aimed at mobilizing the existing sentiment in favour of the candidate and his party and the organizers also hope to create new favourable sentiment by means of the band wagon effect. [61] Likewise political campaigner also play a crucial role in electioneering process as they usually have a great tendency to influence the political behaviour of the electorates while imparting political information. Their major role is to dispatch volunteers in the lekais' (cluster of houses) to meet with the electors and persuade them to support a particular candidate. The mass voters who are overwhelmingly residents of villages are directly influenced by such campaigners. It is said that the way in which the campaigners interact with the electors determine the faith of the contesting candidates in the election.

Campaigners are usually resorted to inviting electorates to lunch or dinner, on behalf of their respective candidates, on the basis of the idea that 'Fed him and he'll be in your debt', as the popular saying goes. One notable aspect of these campaigners is that while designing their election strategies, they are quite sensitive to the ways, in which issues can affect the orientation of the voters. That they create or emphasize such issues which are not necessarily significant to the whole electorate but to selected groups whose support will make a meaningful net addition to the candidate or party. However, the qualities of the local leaders and particularly those who are contesting the election are only the ultimate thing being voted for in the election.

Last, but not the least, the display of posters, flags and bill-boards is an important component of the election campaign in most of the participatory democratic systems. The opposing candidates and parties battle for the attention of voters by these displays. In the constituency, this device assumes greater importance because of widespread illiteracy among the electorate. Campaign organizers, therefore, strive to create a favourable impact by display of colourful flags, party symbols and eye-catching wall posters.

3.5.4. Mass-media Mode of Communication

Modern mass-media are society's most important foundation of political information, if not the principal one, for a wide range of topics such as politics, crime, occupations, environment, and current affairs as well. "The field of political communication studies the interactions between media and political systems, locally, nationally, and internationally." [62] (255). However, it is not possible for voters to form well thought-out opinions on political issues without pertinent and realistic information from the media, and that according to liberal democratic theory, 'media should act as an information agency facilitating the functioning of democracy.' [63] To facilitate this sense of duty, the media must recognize their social responsibilities and put the voters first. As Zaller (1996) argues, "politicians and journalists communicate to the public mainly through the mass media." [64] Undeniably, the observation that most information about politics reaches citizens through mass-media is shared by many scholars. [65] Table 3.9 displays the type of media deemed important by respondent voters as most important. [66] 

Table 3.9

Mass-media Communication: Voters source of information

Frequency

Percent

Valid Percent

Cumulative Percent

Valid

Radio

25

6.3

32.5

32.5

Newspapers

20

5.0

26.0

58.4

Television

18

4.5

23.4

81.8

Others

14

3.5

18.2

100.0

Total

77

19.3

100.0

Missing

System

321

80.7

Total

398

100.0

From the Table 3.5 it is evident that 'radio' has the highest impact with about one-third of the respondents having cited it. On the other, 'newspaper' and 'television' are distributed among the sample respondents with newspaper (26%) having a edge over television (23%). The highest source for radio is due to the magnetism radio has for rural dwellers are derivative from its low-priced and expenditure of operation. Again, they are simply handy and can be used by both educated and illiterates of any society. Views about the influence of newspapers differ among groups within the general public. [67] Here, a significant first person effect exists among politically involved and highly educated people. This is most likely to be an indication that these groups consider it prestigious to be influenced by the political news of the daily press.

The mass-media may have different effects on different types of people with differing results. The media's information work has two main aspects. The first aspect concerns the media's obligation to provide facts on the procedures for implementing the election, and to inform the voters about their rights and duties in that connection. This includes the information needed to enable voters to cast valid votes, and is especially important in societies where the general level of political knowledge is low. Secondly, the media have to provide information concerning the political alternatives on offer and draw attention to the politicians who are fighting for them. This is a complex task. The media must draw attention to the questions that have a bearing on people's living conditions, explain the views held by the political parties on these questions, and show what effects various solutions may have. They must also describe society's most important cleavages and relate the political parties to them.

3.6. Concluding Remarks

From the above analysis, it is evident that inter-personal communications have an edge over all other sources of information in the Oinam assembly constituency. This is, perhaps because as Sanatomba points out: "…rural society is characterized by higher rate of poverty, illiteracy, weak network of transport and communication, the voters are deprived of advantages of mass media to a greater extent. In such context the inter-personal media dominates other form of media as a source of political information." [68] Citizens are socialized to learn democratic norms by participation in social groups, workplaces, and other forums. [69] Warren (1992) offers a similar theory that proposes that social participation transforms individuals and makes them more public-spirited. [70] 

Also campaign communication in the constituency cannot be ignored as it proves helpful information to the voters in an exhaustive manner. Election campaigns are, without a doubt, the premier events of democratic politics and are an indispensable part of a working democracy. They are the mechanism by which citizens hold their government accountable. When elected representatives perform poorly, their constituents can boot them out of office. As a result, campaigns are central to understanding the relationship between the government and the governed, and the operation of democratic politics. Further, institutional mode of communication such as political parties and mass media channel of communication are also an important source of information though not as significant as inter-personal communication. They clearly identified political candidate and promote, support, attack, or oppose a candidate for that office regardless of whether the communications expressly advocate a vote for or against.

Political communication regularly change between closeness and distance of political power: the elected representative wants to stay close to his electors but does not want them to forget that he is invested with responsibilities distinguishing him. Through this use, the politician takes his place as a leader, either by accentuating his personal action or by putting the emphasis on his word. This role can be done with the objective of installing an authority falling back to the role of an actor in the political field. Increasing or continual knowledge gaps are undesirable outcomes from a variety of vantage points. The worry that a "relative deprivation of knowledge may lead to a relative deprivation of power" is a concern shared by communications researchers and political scientists alike (p. 4). [71] 



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