Congress supporters celebrate at the party head office in Aizawl on Monday. Picture by Eastern Projections
Aizawl, Dec. 9: Revising the Mizoram poll results: Mizoram People’s Forum wins with absolute majority.
No, the forum is not a political party. Neither will it find a place in the Assembly.
But it has done what few parties would have pulled off — ensured an austere canvassing, violence-free polling and an equally peaceful counting. Enough for the organisation to be declared the real winner in the 2009 Assembly elections.
A conglomerate of churches and social organisations like the influential Young Mizo Association, the MPF issued a set of dos and don’ts that showed the country, notorious for electoral malpractices, how the society can step into the election commission’s shoes to ensure a free, fair and less expensive election.
To ensure that armed groups do not interfere in the polling, members of the forum personally met leaders of various militant groups, even from the neighbouring states, asking them to stay away from the elections.
The guidelines were formulated jointly by the churches and NGOs in consultation with the political parties.
Though the church and YMA issued guidelines during earlier elections too, they did so separately.
“By joining hands this time we ensured that the parties and people adhere to the rules,” a YMA member said.
In a state where the church is the most respected body, the MPF managed to work wonders.
Even the vanquished were impressed with the clean elections.
Outgoing chief minister Zoramthanga appreciated the role of the forum in reducing the use of money power though he claimed that the gag on campaigning took away some of the constitutional rights of the political parties to reach out to the voters.
The Congress, which returned to power after 10 years, trouncing the Mizo National Front (MNF) in a lopsided contest, too was all praises for the MPF.
The Congress won 32 seats against the MNF’s meagre three seats in the 40-member Assembly.
The Congress, in fact, had attributed its defeat in the last Assembly elections to the massive use of money and muscle power by the MNF.
The forum’s general secretary, Lalbiakmawia Ngente, however, said “our job is far from over”.
“Since it was the first time we played the role of a watchdog, there were some shortcomings. We will now sit down and review those lacunae so that our performance can be better in the next elections,” Ngente said.
The Election Commission’s special observer for the Mizoram elections, Debasish Sen, felt other states should try to emulate the Mizoram experience to rid Indian elections of malpractice and wasteful expenditure.
How much clout the MPF wielded could be gauged from the fact it refused permission for one of the campaigns to be addressed by the Prime Minister.
The Congress wanted Manmohan Singh to address public meetings at three places but got permission for only Lunglei and Aizawl.
“He may be the Prime Minister but when he came he was just another star campaigner,” an MPF office-bearer said.