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Presbyterian Church keeps an eye polls in Mizoram

PTI  Aizwal, November 17, 2013
First Published: 14:57 IST(17/11/2013) | Last Updated: 16:37 IST(7/12/2013)

An outsider to Christian-majority Mizoram will hardly be able to realise that Assembly elections here are just a week away as posters, placards and wall graffiti are few.

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It is the all powerful Presbyterian Church controlled Mizoram People's Forum (MPF), an election watchdog, that dictates the dos and don'ts of campaigning.

All the main political parties in the state, including ruling Congress, main opposition Mizoram Democratic Alliance (MDA) led by Mizoram National Front (MNF) and BJP, have signed an agreement with MPF to abide by the dos and dont's.

"We have the people's support in taking up this cause of election watch. Guidelines have been laid to check any wrongdoings and avoid any kind of violence in the polls and to ensure free, fair and peaceful elections," said MPF President Rev Lalramlian Pachuau.

Political parties campaign on joint platforms organised by the MPF, where all the contestants of an Assembly segment debate poll issues, development work and other matters, moderated by a MPF member.

People assembled at these programs directly ask questions to contenders.

"We try our best to make total use of these joint platforms to single out poor development work and corruption of the present Congress regime. We try to expose the present state government in these platforms," senior MNF leader Biak Thansauga told PTI.

The clout of the MPF can be gauged from the fact that in every council or village council area only three banners, thirty flags and 20 posters of a candidate is allowed for every party. Wall graffiti is prohibited.

Only a few street corner rallies can be witnessed across Mizoram. There are only a few big rallies such as the one by the Prime Minister or by heavyweight politicians.

MPF has banned door to door campaign by contenders in the last ten days before the polls to prevent voters being influenced in any manner.

Political parties are, however, distributing pamphlets door to door.

"We use these platforms as a medium to reach out to the people seeking answers. As apart from door to door campaign, this is the best way to spread the party message, and the government's achievement and the policies it would like to pursue after coming to power," campaign head of Mizoram Pradesh Congress David M Thangliana told PTI.

"The locals too feel that it helps them ask elected representatives a lot of uneasy questions, which usually remains unanswered after a politician gets elected," said James Chacko, a shopkeeper in Aizwal.

Meanwhile, the youth wings of political parties are actively using social networking sites such as Facebook and other sites to debate issues and spread their message.

Facebook pages and groups such as Mizoram Politics, Zoram Politics, Special Report are sites which are frequented by senior politicians of all the political parties who debate issues and answer questions of netizens, especially the youth.

"The social networking sites are having a huge impact among the youths, especially new voters. The response through these sites is immense," MNF leader Biak Thansauga said.

"It is helping us gauge the mood of the public especially the youth," said a Congress activist.

Around 6.86 lakh voters will exercise their franchise to elect 40 members to the Mizoram Assembly from among 142 candidates.

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