As per the agreement between MPF and political parties, ‘feasting, picnic and procession escalate the election expenditure unnecessarily; they must be avoided’

Aizawl: The Mizoram Presbyterian Church-sponsored election watchdog, Mizoram People’s Forum (MPF), has taken a strong exception to the throwing of community feast by the ruling Congress party in two villages under Hrangturzo constituency, which violates the agreement made by the MPF with all political parties in the state.

According to MPF, a community feast was thrown on November 16 at Khawlailung village during a Congress block conference which irked the forum. The election watchdog then requested the Congress workers to respect the agreement and not organise any more community feasts. However, despite this, the Congress party organised another community feast the next day at East Lungdar village.

“The MPF is truly disappointed that the Congress party not only violated our agreement but also did not pay heed to our request and threw the community feast for the second successive day,” the MPF said in a statement.

As per the No 2 (iv) of the agreement between the MPF and political parties, “Feasting, picnic and procession escalate the election expenditure unnecessarily; they must be avoided.”

The agreement also states that “if any political parties or candidates default or goes against the agreement and if there is solid proof or documentary evidence to prove the same, it shall be widely publicised within the MLA constituency where it has been committed”.

Minister Vanlalawmpuii is contesting from Hrangturzo constituency. The seat, won by chief minister Lal Thanhawla in 2013, was vacated which then paved the way for the lone Congress woman candidate to be elected in a bye-election.

Formed in 2006 by several churches and the state’s largest voluntary organisation, Young Mizo Association (YMA), and others civil bodies, MPF functions as a poll watchdog in the state and monitors expenses incurred by parties, and even micro-managing what should, or should not, figure in poll manifestos. The forum organises what it calls a common platform at different places where candidates of various political parties stand on one podium, deliver speeches and take queries from the audience.

The MPF had played a crucial role in ensuring free, fair and inexpensive polls in the previous two assembly elections, Lok Sabha elections and local bodies elections.

The MPF volunteers have closely watched the candidates and their campaigners against the use of money and other unfair means. The forum has also made a restriction on the number and size of posters and banners to be used by each candidate.

MPF secretary Rev Lalbiakmawia said that the MPF basically aims to achieve model election process in Mizoram for the rest of India. “Our agreement with the political parties aims to make the candidates free from corrupt practices, from bribing and intimidating voters, not to indulge in impersonation and avoid canvassing within a diameter of 100 metres from polling station.

Rev Lalbiakmawia also said that the MPF has put a limit for expenses to be incurred by each candidate, which is Rs 20 lakh.

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