Kohima, June 26: The Nagaland Baptist Church Council (NBCC), which initiated a drive for holding free and fair elections in the state ahead of the 2013 general polls, has urged militants not to participate in the electoral process.
According to the church, some politicians use the militants as puppets and the election process has nothing to do with the aspirations and pursuits of the militants.
“Their involvement has been annoying because by using arms and threats they have been stealing the rights of the general public,” the NBCC said.
It urged militants to refuse the advances any politician who solicit their support in order to intimidate the public and disrupt democratic elections. Over the last 15 years, militants have had a major impact on elections. Working for candidates or parties of their choice, they have been involved in booth capturing, issuing threats, assaults and even murders.
Militants in Nagaland have been fighting for sovereignty for over 60 years. The NBCC, expecting things will take a turn for the worse in the next elections, has launched the “clean election” campaign.
NBCC president Rev. Keviyiekielie Linyu said the purpose behind the clean election campaign was to tell the truth, to fight for the truth, to stand for the truth and to bring about positive change in Naga society. “The freedom of its citizens is secured by legitimised rights and liberties that are generally protected by the constitution,” he said.
“There is no hiding the ugly face of elections in our land. Can we continue like this and sell off our birthright and future?” NBCC general secretary Rev. L. Anjo Keikung asked. The church has to stand against “evil forces”, he said.
Keikung felt that Nagaland being a Christian dominated state could have held up a better example to the world and shown a much better way of conducting elections based on biblical principles. Convener of the working committee of the clean election campaign Hovithal N. Sothu said: “The movement of making elections a spiritual issue has become too important in the Naga context because it is the epicentre that shapes most of the political, economic and social life of Nagaland.”
Hovithal said the devastating tentacles of the state elections have touched every strata of Naga society: individuals, families, villages, churches, tribes, traditional and government institutions.
“It is the biggest force that is eroding the moral foundation as well as the future of the Naga people,” he said. The NBCC has also come out strongly against proxy voters. Political workers add names of minors to the voter list, which is a crime, the church said.
According to former finance minister and veteran politician K. Therie, there are around 4 lakh proxy voters among the 12 lakh voters in the electoral list. “The NBCC believes that election is a time when churches are called to exercise their prophetic ministry and engage in a mission to convert human souls from love of money and power to love of God,” Hovithal said.