Aizawl, Nov. 27, 2018: With colorful, well-coordinated rallies and music, Mizoram witnessed the most lively elections in its history.
Young singers were recruited to an election campaign program of Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma, mainly in Aizawl. They sang popular local numbers and Western songs even as the flags of Sangma’s National People’s Party (NPP) and the BJP which is backing it were waved around. NPP has a considerable presence in all the northeastern states.
“There is no other way you could reach voters unless you address the youth,” the chief minister said.
Soon, others — the Mizo National Front (MNF), a strong contender this time, and the Congress — followed suit. Interestingly the same singers were hired to perform for these parties as well.
“You can call it an American style of election,” said social activist, R. Laljinghania.
The state never used to witness election rallies; there were not even posters or pamphlets distributed for the elections as the churches in Mizoram were opposed to it.
The churches, which play a key role in the governance of the state, including advising the government on various issues, had asked political leaders not to flood the state with banners, posters, pamphlets, and told them to stay away from holding massive campaign rallies.
However, the BJP decided to put an end to this custom and introduced massive political rallies with Prime Minister Narendra Modi holding a few campaign rallies in the state. The Congress too brought in Rahul Gandhi to address a massive rally in Aizawl ahead of the visit of the prime minister.
The churches agreed that this was a sharp deviation, but welcomed it nonetheless. “Yes, earlier we controlled this. But one silver lining this time is people got educated,” Mizoram Baptist Church president K. Lalringthanga told THE WEEK.
He clarified that the churches were opposed to the high decibel election campaign as they wanted to restrict the flow of “illegal” money during the poll campaigns. “We all know how illegal money is spent in the name of election rallies. That is the reason churches kept a tab on the election campaigning,” he said.
The churches appear to be ready to adapt to the changing times. However, many in the state agree that this would not mean the churches would not keep an eye on the election spending and reimpose the diktat if necessary.