iconimg Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Rahul Karmakar, Hindustan Times
Aizawl, November 15, 2013
Imagine Sheila Dikshit, Harsh Vardhan and Arvind Kejriwal taking turns to canvass from a common platform without criticising each other, addressing the same set of people and moving on after a tea party organised by locality voters.
You cannot, because this happens only in Mizoram.

Campaigning here is a far cry from the animated and often violent run-up to elections elsewhere in India.

The EC has nothing to do with this ‘code of conduct’. The Mizoram People’s Forum (MPF), a church-controlled election watchdog, has. But the discipline inherent in Mizo culture is primarily responsible.

Discipline it was that made the contestants of Aizawl East-II take their seats at the Dawrpui School hall before the local voters trooped in. It was a joint campaign platform organised by NGOs of Dawrpui and Saron localities.

“We gave a list of four questions related to the development of the constituency to each contestant and let them justify why we should vote for them,” said Lalramuana, vice-president of Young Mizo Association’s (YMA) Dawrpui unit.

“Elections in Mizoram have always been peaceful. But after the 2003 polls, we felt the festivities were too loud and entailed unnecessary expenditure. The MPF was thus formed in 2006 to make elections a civilised democratic exercise,” said Vanlalruata, general secretary of Central YMA, a social NGO.

The MPF has a set of 27 rules for political parties.

“If any candidate spends money unofficially, we have a public address system in every locality to shame him,” said Reverend Lalramliana Pachuau, moderator of Mizoram Presbyterian Church, under which the MPF works.

This is because the expenditure is taken care of by the church and residents of a locality so that no one is under any obligation. The election budget of every locality factors in meals for polling officials and a cup of tea for every voter who turns up at the booth.