There are a lot of lessons which the North East states of India can teach us. And one very important one, that too on how to conduct elections fair and just comes from Mizoram.
The Mizo People’s Front (MPF) is a community initiative backed by the Church. Launched in 2006, the initiative is armed with a mechanism to name and shame any wrongdoing by a candidate on community loudspeakers for one and all to know and denounce. And today it works closely with the Election Commission to ensure elections are conducted in a fair and just manner with no money power at play.
In the run-up to every election, MPF enters into such a ‘partnership agreement’ with all major political players and decides a set of dos and don’ts. Complete with signatures of the president of each party, the agreement is thereafter printed in Mizo and English languages and distributed among the public.
The rules read like a dream and bets part, they are implemented and followed too. Take a look at the rules:
- No candidate is allowed to host a community feast or picnic as they can be expensive
- Only five banners, 50 flags and 30 posters are allowed per candidate
- Distribution of cash and commodities like rice, footballs and jerseys, mobile handsets, etc. are strictly not allowed.
- A candidate can neither borrow money from anyone nor goods from any shop during the campaign.
- Banner shall not be bigger than 4/8 feet.
- Poster shall not be bigger than 3/4 feet.
- Only flag can be used in a two-wheelers and it must not be bigger than 1/2 feet.
- Only one flag per three-wheeler and four-wheeler is allowed and cannot be bigger than 2/3 feet.
- Flag which is taller than 3 feet is not allowed.
- Large number of flags allowed only at an election rally.
- Taking out processions after the poll dates are announced is not allowed.
- No usage of loudspeakers.
So why is it that MPF works and not the EC rules? The fact that the Church is driving this forum means it begins on the platform of respect; plus being moral drivers of the society, it is very tough for political parties to get people to defy the MPF. A perfect example of how usage of religion ethically can bring about so much positive change.