Sinlung /
18 November 2013

No Mudslinging For Votes Please, This Is Mizoram

By Prasanta Mazumdar 

For hours, Lalsawta, Sailothanga Sailo and K Laltuvela answered a volley of questions from voters at a joint campaign platform organised by local NGOs on Thursday evening. But not once, they attacked or criticised the rivals.

They are candidates in the prestigious Aizawl East-II assembly constituency in Mizoram which goes to polls on November 25.

In a country where polls are fought bitterly, Mizoram has set a precedent of sorts by being peaceful all along. “Discipline is an inherent culture of the Mizos. The parties may have political and ideological differences but they always stay away from mudslinging,” retired government officer LR Sailo told dna.

Campaigning here is always a low-key affair and free from noise and violence. Common platforms and door-to-door visits by candidates are by and large the only modes of campaigning.

Candidates here spend very little from their pockets as money required to organise common platforms are generated by locals.

“If a candidate spends money unofficially, he is shamed through a public address system while people are advised to be wary of him,” Lalramuana, an NGO worker, said.

On Sunday, politics in Mizoram mingles with spirituality

As the Assembly polls are inching closure in Mizoram, where about 90 per cent of people practise Christianity, political parties are using Sunday Mass to connect with the electorate.

In Christian majority Mizoram, Sunday is not only a holiday but also a day when everything comes to a halt, including political campaigns, as nothing is more important than their weekly routine of going to Church.

Active campaigning takes a backseat on the day of rest as leaders of all main political parties visit churches in their respective constituencies to hold Bible classes.

The all powerful Presbyterian Chruch controlled Mizoram People's Forum (MPF), an election watchdog, has prohibited any kind of political campaigns in Mizoram on Sundays.

"Sunday is a holiday in Mizoram, whether its political campaign or offices. Everything comes to a halt on Sundays. We too visit churches on Sunday for prayers," campaign head of Mizoram Pradesh Congress David M Thangliana said.

Main opposition party Mizoram National Front (MNF), former chief minister Zoramthanga, President of the regional Zoram Nationalist Party Lalduhawma, and even Chief Minister Lal Thanhawla take Bible classes in churches in their respective localities or constituencies.

Lalduhawma, who is a church elder, also takes Bible classes and sometimes delivers sermons in the local church in his home locality.

Zoramthanga, teaches the 'Book of Psalms' at Sunday Bible classes in his home locality in Aizawl.

But this regular Sunday church duty is not entirely without political discussions, when various political leaders visit the church for Sunday prayers and have an interaction with the common people visiting the Church.

"It is obvious that when you have a politician visiting a church for Sunday prayers, political conversations, though covertly, may come up when they interact or greet others visiting the church," said James, a shopkeeper in Aizwal town.

Around 6.86 lakh voters will exercise their franchise on November 25 for the election of 40 members to the Mizoram Assembly and decide the fate of 142 candidates who are in the poll fray.

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