The line between religion and politics is often blurred in 'Nagaland for Christ', as graffiti proclaim. Poll-specific sermons from the church have underscored this.
Most of the 1.98 million people in Nagaland comprising 16 tribes - 15 of them Nagas - are Christians. The bulk of
them are Baptists, which is what makes the Nagaland Baptist Church Council (NBCC) a powerful organisation.
The NBCC is the apex body of some 1,600 Baptist churches across Nagaland, exercising substantial clout over the Nagas. It often seeks upholding of moral values, abstinence from alcohol and immoral sex.
The church body has now underlined clean elections and reform in governance as the prime 'Christian principles' for the February 23 polls. It has accordingly outlined a list of do's and don'ts while labelling the approach as 'more of a spiritual war' without any political design.
"Our volunteers are reminding the people and politicians that selling their vote is like selling their birthright and identity. Our intention is to stand up for the truth and bring about a positive change by choosing God-fearing, principled and capable candidates," director of NBCC's development wing Hukashe Zhimomi said.
A candidate allegedly spends Rs. 20-30crore, handing out cash, meat (usually pork), wine (smuggled in from adjoining Assam as Nagaland is a dry state) and even SUVs to ensure victory.