Church-NGO platform for electoral reform

Aizawl, June 29, 2008 (PTI): After ensuring minimum wasteful expenditure in the Tlungvel and Chawngte Assembly bypolls in 2006, an organisation in Mizoram is working to replicate its achievements in the Mizoram Assembly elections due later this year.

Allegations of use of money and muscle power by political parties in elections led to the formation of the Mizo People’s Forum (MPF), an organisation floated by the churches and major NGOs, on June 21, 2006. The MPF is now led by Rev H Vanlalauva, moderator of the Mizoram Presbyterian Synod, the biggest and most powerful church in the State.

MPF leaders said joint public meetings could be organised on a common platform for all candidates which would bring down expenses and waste less time of the candidate and the people.

Also, expensive and noisy street concerts to make people attend public meetings and ostentatious feasts to attract voters could be done away with, they said.

The MPF, a leader said, investigated complaints of money being given to the people and made the findings public.

The MPF was formed by representatives of the conglomerate of churches and major NGOs like the Young Mizo Association (YMA) and others to work for political and electoral reforms.

Synod Social Front activist Bonny Lalrindika said that fanatical loyalty to a particular political party prevented the voter from selecting the best candidate in the constituency.

The first political party in Mizoram, the Mizo Union, formed a year before independence was extremely fanatical about abolition of chieftainship and the popular way of showing resentment for the chiefs was throwing stones on the roofs of their houses, he said.

“Hardcore Mizo Union activists used to say, “I will vote for the party candidate even if he or she is a frog,” Lalrindika said. However, though it seems to be a good approach, the Presbyterian Church’s Social Front is yet to make any headway on this line.

While many people hail the efforts of the MPF to reform politics and election process, many others, including intellectuals, have been sceptical about its pragmatism. “Unless there is a will to bring about a radical change in the election process without consideration to hurt the political prospect of major political parties, metamorphosis of the political and election scenario will never occur,” a journalist said.

He said, the reality was that even the powerful church, which forced the State Goverenment to impose prohibition in the State and the YMA which launched anti-drug campaigns, dared not go so far as to antagonise all political parties.

In order to effectively reform the electoral process, there was need for legislation so that criminals, including corrupt politicians would not be allowed to contest elections, university teacher Lallianchhunga said.

The constitution of the MPF was also the outcome of numerous allegations of the use of insurgent groups from across the border and money power during the State Assembly polls in 2003.

It remains to be seen, however, whether or not the coming elections in the State will be entirely free of malpractices.

Source: Assam Tribune

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About Zou Sangnaupang Pawlpi Delhi

Zou Students' Association Delhi Branch
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