How the Church influences Mizo politics

missionveng biakinRecently, I came across an interesting article in Tehelka magazine which outlined how the Mizoram Presbyterian Church has taken the responsibility to ensure that the assembly polls in Mizoram are free and fair.
Following are excerpts from the article:
– A powerful moral watchdog, the Mizoram Peoples’ Forum (MPF) – sponsored by the Mizoram Presbyterian Church Synod will set up offices in every village to monitor the elections.
– “Our main aim is to ensure that free and fair elections are held. We’re working very hard to convince people not to accept gifts from candidates” – Rev. Lalbikmawia, Executive Secretary of the Synod
– They have asked candidates to spend little, not hold community feasts and abide by Election Commission’s code of conduct.
– “If they spend less money now they will be clean in the future. If they spend recklessly, we will urge the people not to vote for that candidate” – Rev. Lalbikmawia
– Another MPF guideline is that the political parties cannot hold separate public meetings, and that all meetings will be supervisied by the MPF. The MPF will convene meetings in community halls where candidates can speak.
– The Synod has asked candidates not to go door-to-door campaigns. Candidates might bribe voters or give them things like rice…
– But what will the MPF or the Synod do if people do not adhere to their guidelines? “We know the common people are pious and will abide by any guideline of the church. We can only urge them to lead a moral life. We do not want to interfere in the elections but only want to facilitate the process” says an MPF official.
– The MPF hopes that the common people will be able to differenciate between the good and the bad and expects all political parties to adhere to their directives. Says Rev Lalbikmawia: “We can only pray that the best candidate wins”
I am sure this will make an interesting reading for any Naga, both being predominantly Christian states.
A few questions come to my mind:
– Can the NBCC match the Synod in giving such directives durings elections?
– Will Nagas listen to the NBCC if simlilar directives are laid down?
– Is the church right in issuing such directives?
I don’t have answers for the first two questions but regarding the thrid one – I feel the Synod has done a commendable job by taking it upon temselves to see that elections are not ‘dirty’. It does not matter how much successful they will be in cleansing political campaigns. The important aspect is the Synod has listened to their conscience and decided they will try and get the best leaders elected.
Actions speak louder than words spoken on the pulpit.