People's forum hopes for 'clean' polls

People's forum hopes for 'clean' polls

The Election Commission has said that its aim is to have a "clean" election — one that is less expensive, eco-friendly and bereft of money and muscle power — has received a push in Mizoram.

The influential churches and NGOs that formed the Mizoram People's Forum (MPF) in 2006 have signed an agreement with all political parties stipulating "rules prohibiting" the use of money, microphones, processions or even refreshments to woo voters.

The document, named the 'Partnership Agreement of MPF and Political Parties', which was revised for the 2018 Assembly elections, also called for strict legal action against those resorting to negative campaigns on social media and prohibits the use of entertainers and celebrities in campaigns.

According to the agreement, no candidate or party can arrange vehicles for voters to visit their meetings or polling centres, or offer gifts in cash or kind. The agreement has even fixed a limit on the number and size of banners or posters to be used by candidates or parties.

The agreement stipulates rules on selection of candidates, election expenses, campaigns, safety and security, manifestos, among others.

"In order to prevent the use of money power to woo voters, we accompany the candidates who wish to have house-to-house campaigns. If a candidate violates the rules, we announce the wrongdoing in public meetings, which can have a negative impact on his or her poll prospect. We are working hand-in-hand with the Election Commission and we inform the commission in case of any violation of norms," general secretary of MPF, Reverend Dr R Lalbiakmawia told DH on Wednesday, from Aizwal, the state capital.

Nominations of 204 candidates have been accepted for the 40-member Assembly elections. The MPF "guidelines" are applicable to the independent candidates too.

The Congress, which is in power since 2008, is eyeing to make a hat-trick while the Opposition Mizo National Front, a regional force, exuded confidence that it would get at least 25 seats.

The BJP, which does not have an MLA, meanwhile, has fielded candidates in all 40 seats with an aim to achieve its "Congress-mukt Northeast" target by having its government in Mizoram, Congress’ last bastion in the region.

Although the Congress claims 'Hindu BJP' won't be accepted in Christian-majority Mizoram, BJP chief Amit Shah recently said in Aizawl that next Christmas would be celebrated in Mizoram under a BJP government.

The Congress has already alleged that BJP would use its money power to woo voters and the Independent candidates to form its government. BJP called it "an utter lie".

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