Mizoram 2018

Big fat campaigns are a strict no-no in Mizoram

Keeping the decorum: A campaign meeting in Aizawl with music thrown in for good measure.  

House-to-house campaigning is back in Mizoram, but conditions apply.

Common platform, with all candidates of a constituency sharing a stage, was the standard mode of campaigning in the State during the Assembly elections in 2008 and 2013.

At a chosen venue like a community hall, each would speak on why he or she deserved to win.

The Mizoram People’s Forum (MPF), a Church-backed election watchdog involving members of influential non-governmental organisations, has relaxed the guidelines this time and let the candidates and parties skip the common platform.

“The political parties said the common platform did not serve their purpose much. They requested for house-to-house campaigning, and we relented,” R. Lalbiakmawia, general secretary of the MPF, said.

But local unit members of the MPF must accompany a candidate door to door to check possible offers of cash and other allurements, and party workers are not allowed to campaign on behalf of a candidate.

“Some MPF representatives are too overbearing, making you uncomfortable during campaigning. It is as if they are working for some party or the other,” L.R. Colney, BJP candidate for the Aizawl West-I seat, said after a door-to-door campaign in the Luangmual area of the Mizoram capital.

All-party agreement

The MPF denied favouring any party. “Our guidelines are made after an agreement with the parties for educating voters to choose untainted candidates, and not to suit the party in power. Our volunteers are the ethical eyes,” B. Sangthanga, the MPF’s senior vice-president, said.

The Rev. Lalbiakmawia said the MPF was formed in 2006 to make elections in Mizoram clean. “There had been instances of violence, kidnapping and other unsavoury incidents related to the polls earlier. Church elders stepped in to bring some order and help the Election Commission conduct polls smoothly,” he said.

As in the previous two elections, the MPF has dissuaded rallies. But small street meetings that do not affect life are allowed.

“The MPF is more effective than the poll panel in ensuring peaceful elections. But its members cannot prevent a party like the Congress from finding ways to give inducements to voters. One of my acquaintances had money transferred to his account electronically,” Kenneth Chawngliana, senior vice-president of the Zoram People’s Movement, said.

“That is a blatant lie. If they have evidence, why don’t they approach the competent authority for complaint,” Lal Lianchhunga, Congress spokesperson, said.

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Printable version | Feb 26, 2021 6:18:34 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/elections/mizoram-assembly-elections-2018/big-fat-campaigns-are-a-strict-no-no-in-mizoram/article25498635.ece

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