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The not-so-secular elections in Mizoram

Although I was aware that the Church was playing an increasingly prominent role in the elections in Mizoram, the full extent of that missed me until I was alerted to this report in Outlook by Sanjay.

Excerpts below (emphasis mine):

…Elections in Mizoram this year have defied norms. Quite contrary to the usual threat of violence that defined them, they were subdued and sterilised because of the involvement of the almighty Church in the election process…this (was) the first time a church-backed vigilante group—the Mizoram People Forum (MPF)—stepped in to “oversee the conduct of free and fair elections”. This has won the Church great praise but also generated unease about a religious institution issuing political diktats and enforcing them by its volunteers.

Alongside the Election Commission’s code of conduct, the Church issued its own code…The MPF even put out guidelines describing an “ideal candidate”

…Though the code had no legal binding, offenders, MPF secretary Lalbiakmawia Ngente says, were censured “morally and socially”. This is a point that rankles Henry Zodinliana Pachau, a lecturer at the Mizoram University in Aizwal. “What’s worrying is that they are determining what is good. I wouldn’t want my freedom to be clipped in the name of religion,” he says.

…The Church, especially the MPCS, is a pervasive force in Mizoram where about 87 per cent of the population is Christian.

Should this model of allowing religious institutions an active role in elections be replicated elsewhere? Former CEC James Lyngdoh doesn’t think so. “Almost everyone in Mizoram is a Christian and the Church is so influential that it influences everybody. It is a unique situation,” he says.

As Sanjay remarked:

“…Wonder what the champions of secular India have to say to this report!”

Related Posts:

A dangerous portent

Must we separate religion from politics?

Of Turkey, Secular States and Religion

January 15th, 2009 Posted by | Conversions, Missionaries in India, Elections Results, Analysis and Related, Politics and Governance in India | 66 comments

66 Comments »

  1. @Reena Singh

    Good points and sites.

    Little they know about Hinduism. Hinduism has got that strength that it can rise from the ash.

    Comment by Indian | February 3, 2009

  2. Reena,

    Repeating a lie a thousand times does not make it the truth. Guru Goebbels did not stand the test of time.

    I am waiting for the day you start saying the British were really Bharateeyas who had migrated to Britain in pre-Vedic times. Mohammed, of course was a UP Brahmin who went to Arabia to spread the Shaivite faith and to establish the Shiva temple called the Kaaba. This carpenter’s son, Jesus, had actually come to Bharat to learn philosophy and yoga.

    Sorry, thoda zyaada ho gaya. But our poor old Hinduism has not got all that outdated that it should need the clarion call of “Mazhab ko khatra” like some new-fangled Semitic religion trying to find itself.

    We used to have people from all faiths and sects, from the Rosicrucians to the Brahmakumaris, trying to get us to take their particular brand of mobile connection, coming to our house. My parents would never turn away a travelling salesman. They were, I feel, accumulating good karma for the day their children were pharmaceutical representatives peddling useless formulations and promising doctors kickbacks – those were the only jobs available in those days. We would listen to all of them, discuss points with them, read all their books avidly and leave it at that. We would go to spiritual discourses, attend Gita classes. In the process, we developed a quality that allowed us to have regard and sympathy for the salesmen and a healthy disregard for the poppycock they were peddling.

    This, all considered, was not a bad thing. Instead of filling your mind with all this nonsense, try to see humans as humans. Kul milaake saath sattar saal jeena hai, usmese ek thihayi neend mein, ek thihayi pet ke peeche, baaki rakha hi kya? You want to spend all this time fuming? Hate consumes us faster than any fire. Learn to see the good and appreciate it. There still is a little bit around us.

    Comment by Jayadevan | February 4, 2009

  3. http://www.rightwingwatch.org/2006/11/robertson_says.html

    I know this is not the right place to post this topic but let everyone see and decide who needs love and peace in this world and what is going around us. Little bit good!

    Comment by Indian | February 4, 2009

  4. Indian,

    Thanks for the post. And I thought that there were pseudoseculars only in India. So there are antinationals in all countries. Posts by Christians corrupted by foreign ideas.

    Comment by Jayadevan | February 5, 2009

  5. @Jayadevan

    Thanks for watching! My comment is on conversion link.

    Comment by Indian | February 5, 2009

  6. @JayaGoebbels,

    Sentimental clap-trap chodo, kaam ki baat karo.

    Since, at your age, you seem to have amnesia, I will repeat this again – for your benefit. Show me the proof that Indian Christians participated in the Indian Freedom Struggle, instead of beating around the bush.

    If you cannot show me any proof, I will politely request to please shut your pie-hole.

    My generation of Indians is cleaning up the mess left behind by the likes of you. If it takes me one-third of my life to fight your anti-Hindu propaganda, then so be it.

    Comment by Reena Singh | February 6, 2009

  7. Reenabehenji,

    You have made the accusations. I am only a foolish old Mallu, who has seen only the small well that is Kerala. As you say, suffering from Alzheimer’s (the unkind call it senile dementia). You could ask some of your Mallu friends. Just look around, and you will know that the Vedas were not written in the local shakha. And of course, all the Mallu Christians were originally Hindus. Do you know that the very first non-Semitic Christian converts were in Kerala, and they were all Nambudiris?

    If you do not want to see the truth, you will never see it. Would you like to define “anti-Hindu” for me? I assume, here, that you would be claiming to be Hindu (or at least, pro-Hindu) yourself.

    I know how you are cleaning up the “mess”. I was very much there in Ahmedabad in 2002 when the “spontaneous outpouring of emotion” took place, with open encouragement from the police and sitting cabinet ministers, with perfectly targeted attacks by gangs who had ready lists of business establishments with Muslim partners. When cutting open a pregnant woman’s stomach and displaying the embryo on the point of a sword was called manliness. When a Hindu trying to protect a Muslim or his property was called a traitor and dealt with accordingly. Did you see the photos of Gaza? The Guptanagar area of Ahmedabad looked exactly like that. except for the fact that the destruction was low-tech and took place in a much more leisurely manner, because the miscreants were told by the police that they had all the time in the world. Where a police inspector assured me, sitting comfortably in his chair at the station (once he was assured by looking at my identity card that I was indeed Jayadevan and not Javed) that they had taken care of “mini Pakistan” (as Juhapura was called). Where, when Juhapura was ringed by armed mobs on the night of the 31st of March (saved from annihilation only by the (untimely?) arrival of the army) the policemen were instructing the mob in Vasna to let the armed people pass through to the front. This much is not denied by anyone. In fact, it is still a matter of pride for the people of Gujarat. If that stupid George Fernandes had not come, you could have said with pride. “kachara saaf ho gaya!”

    The Godhra incident was heinous, pre-planned with the help of the ISI or not. Whatever provocation you have, there can never be any justification for torching innocents. There was bound to be communal rioting after that. I have no objections to people killing each other for the cut of their clothes or the style of their beards. This is as part of our culture as cricket or sex-determination tests or Ravindra Sangeet. What I objected to was the active encouragement given to the Hindu miscreants by the Government machinery. In places (Bhavnagar, for instance) where the timely action by the local SP had prevented the “spontaneous outpouring”, it started with a little delay after he was shifted by the powers that be. The Muslim miscreants were shot. No level playing field. Once a government comes to power, it is not supposed to be exclusively of, for and by the people who voted for it. Unfortunately, you young people have forgotten all these old corrupt norms.

    You know all the answers. There are some guys among the Muslims called the Taleban (students, they call themselves – aap satyarthi bolenge, apne aap ko?)who know all the answers. Aaapka saaf duniya aapko mubarak ho.

    It helps a little bit to question oneself, once in a while. Apun Bhagavan to nahin, hai na?

    Now, I will, as you have so politely requested me to, shut my mouth – I assume that is what you meant by pie-hole ( I do not know all these Americanisms – in fact, the only pies I have seen are in comedy films).

    I am not worried about you or even angry with you. At the age of eighteen, I knew all the answers. Now I am sure that I know the answer of none and I am not even sure of the questions. Just walk around Aham Brahmasmi for some time every day and look at the words from all angles.

    Ishwaran rakshikkatte!

    Comment by Jayadevan | February 7, 2009

  8. Dear Sir,
    HA! HA!. Where did this bullshit of the first converts where Namboodris come about. ENGLISH HISTORY! Then I am sure it must me true Reenaji.
    Please Reenaji, do not argue; It is futile. History does not belong to Hindus; It belongs to The Christian Educated masses and Gobbels. Not Hindus.
    Godhra. The tearing apart of the pregnant woman. The so called SECULARS are still coming forward to prove it. Twice it has been challenged by the NO HISTORY HINDUS History!
    History once again belongs to the English Christian educated masses. Not to Hindus.
    Poor Bhagvan he could not even help his son from being crucified! What he can do now?
    regards,
    vck

    Comment by v.c.krishnan | February 7, 2009

  9. @Jayadevan

    You missed very important facts about Godhara. That is brutal death of 59 passenger in a S6 coach. Can you please give some details of it Why it Happened? I will be obliged to know more from you, because it seems you know much more.

    You took care of “mini paistan”. what about that “mini pakistan” in the days before this roits and their activity in the past and in the present when you were not present there?

    Muslims wanted to live with their terms and condition in Gujarat without having any obligation to other faiths and public. Some villages cannot be visited by common public where they have strong majority. Why? What’s cooking up there?

    I have lot of things to discuss. I will be back discussing more on it. Obviously healthy discussion!

    Comment by Indian | February 7, 2009

  10. Please check out http://mizoram.nic.in/ – it is a Mizo govt website. The extreme left column of links, under “More Information”, lists “Churches”. Mizoram has a population that today is over 85% Christian.

    Mizoram has Buddhists and Hindus too, but their places of worship are not listed in this official site.

    India has a population that is over 80% Hindu. Should the GOI website list our country’s major Hindu institutions (and none other)? Or would that be considered “communal”?

    If the Gujarat or Madhya Pradesh govt websites listed Hindu institutions (and none other), would that be considered “communal”?

    Yes, in Nehruvian-secular minority-appeasing India.

    Comment by Krishen Kak | September 3, 2012

  11. The latest from Mizoram, an excerpt from Mizoram assembly poll advanced to November 25, 18 hours ago , By PTI
    Counting postponed by a day to December 9
    The Election Commission on Wednesday changed the Mizoram assembly election schedule by advancing the polling on November 25 and postponing the counting by a day to December 9.

    The polls to elect the 40-member state assembly were earlier slated on December 4 and counting was to take place on December 8.

    The decision to advance poll dates in Mizoram was taken by EC after political parties, NGOs and religious organisations petitioned it with a request in this regard.

    Political parties, churches and NGOs had sought a change in the dates of polling and counting of votes saying the earlier polling day coincided with the time when the Mizoram Synod, the highest decision-making body of the Presbyterian, will hold state-wide conference in Aizawl and wanted that counting should not be held on a Sunday, a sacred day for Christians…

    Comment by B Shantanu | October 24, 2013

  12. Excerpts from Mizoram polls: The politics of religion is on the wall, in posters by Adam Halliday, Aizawl | Wed Nov 13 2013:
    …With the battle to form Mizoram’s seventh government taking a turn towards identity politics, the two main parties — Congress and Mizo National Front — have tried to outdo each other in a curious way; show through pictures that leaders of the other party have worshipped in and attended ceremonies of other religions.

    One of the MNF’s main poll planks this election is based on exploiting sentiments of the largely Christian Mizos against four-time Congress Chief Minister Lal Thanhawla, who has on several occasions taken part in pujas while visiting other states, sporting a tilak on his forehead at one ceremony he attended with his wife.

    The MNF began work on the strategy months ago, even taking out a massive rally in Aizawl to protest the CM’s “bowing before other gods” and has since not missed any opportunity to take potshots at the CM, constantly exploiting the Christian belief that idol-worship is unacceptable.

    Sensing the mood, the MNF, while announcing its second and final list of candidates for the November 25 polls a week ago, distributed brochures carrying photographs of the CM and his wife attending Hindu ceremonies, including lighting a lamp in front of an idol of Durga, cracking open coconuts at a ceremony and the CM’s mugshot with a tilak on his forehead.

    “We are not condemning the CM following another religion, it is his right. But he must keep in mind that it is because the leader of this land has committed a sin against God that the land has seen many tragic incidents. As the Bible says, the sins of the leader will lead to tragedies for the land,” the brochure reads, subtly referring to the natural disasters that have hit the state over the past few years.

    Comment by B Shantanu | November 14, 2013

  13. Excerpts from Church-backed watchdog body has its own poll rules by Vishant V Agarwala, TNN | Nov 14, 2013:

    ..
    The election process has a sense of divine edict about it. The Church pushed the Election Commission to reschedule polling and counting dates to accommodate the Presbyterian Church’s fiveday Synod despite chief electoral officer Ashwani Kumar’s protests; counting was postponed by a day to December 9 because ‘Sunday is meant for prayers’. Not just that, the clergy also plays virtual election commission. The Church has issued a four-page list of do’s and don’ts for voters and candidates. Apart from the honesty and harmony bits, it says: “Refrain from voting for those who drink or have extra-marital sex.” With almost 70% of Mizoram following the Presbyterian Church, no party rubs them the wrong way.

    Mizoram People’s Forum, a Church-sponsored watchdog formed in 2006, has signed a 27-point ‘MoU’ with major political parties, including the ruling Congress and BJP, to ensure a ‘free and fair’ election.

    While the EC’s lauded the MPF’s role, many question the religious body’s role in a democratic process.

    “Elections should remain secular . The scenario in Mizoram is like that of 18th century Europe when religious doctrine got mixed up with political administration,” says Lallianchhunga, assistant professor of political science, Mizoram University. “Would similar orders issued by another religious body in another part of India be accepted by the politicians?” he asks. “Going by this logic, we shouldn’t have elections on Fridays and Tuesdays either because they are holy days for some religions.”

    College-goer Nghaka believes MPF is a Frankenstein in the making . “What authority does it have to issue guidelines beyond those issued by the EC? We’re supposed to elect leaders, not saints. Some of the best leaders in world history – including Churchill and Kennedy, one a heavy drinker and another known for extra-marital affairs – would never have been able to contest elections in Mizoram.”

    Comment by B Shantanu | November 14, 2013

  14. I am surprised some are wondering when Mizoram became 87% Christian. Do they know Nagaland is 90% Christian. Many don’t know that most of the Terrorist organizations in NE are Christian, funded by Western Churches, have been on terrorising conversion spree for last 50 years….

    http://www.stephen-knapp.com/preaching_in_indias_northeast_for_cultural_preservation.htm

    Next stage after coversions is breaking India. “Nagalim for Christ” movement in Nagaland has been gathering storm for several years now. Establishing some kingdom of god by breaking India is their plan all over India.

    http://www.breakingindia.com/

    Comment by Prahalad Appaji | November 15, 2013

  15. Meanwhile, in far-away Mizoram where the opposition Mizo National Front has been protesting against the (Christian) CM “bowing before other gods”, five-time CM Lal Thanhawla hits back against the opposition’s attack on him for sporting a tilak..by saying “I wiped away the tilak on my forehead after the function…” [http://j.mp/1h0uHPF]
    Jai Ho, “Secular” India…

    Also read http://satyameva-jayate.org/2007/09/08/no-tilak-to-work/

    Comment by B Shantanu | November 19, 2013

  16. Somewhat related: Church bodies in Nagaland and Manipur oppose Yoga Day on Sunday by Samudra Gupta Kashyap | Guwahati | Updated: June 20, 2015

    Comment by B Shantanu | June 22, 2015

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