Mobile phone key mode of campaign in poll-bound Mizoram

November 12th, 2008 - 11:25 am ICT by IANS  

Aizawl, Nov 12 (IANS) Text messages on mobile phones are the most popular mode of seeking votes in Mizoram, which goes to the polls early next month to elect a new state assembly.”Sending text messages through mobile phones is the main mode of campaigning this time. Candidates are also sending their election symbols through SMS to make the voters aware,” said Vanlalremruata, a senior journalist and campaigner for inexpensive poll campaigns.

The election to the 40-seat Mizoram assembly is scheduled for Dec 2 and the results are expected Dec 8.

The influential Mizoram People’s Forum (MPF), a conglomeration of major churches and NGOs, has issued a set of election guidelines for political parties and candidates.

“Election campaigns, specially ‘door-to-door’ campaigns, always end up with candidates and party workers using money power to persuade electors. We disapprove of this practice,” said Zosangliana Colney, MPF vice president and a leader of the Mizoram Presbyterian Church.

With election fever gripping the state, sale of mobile handsets and SIM cards is on the rise.

“Sales of SIM cards and mobile handsets have gone up manifold since the poll diktats were imposed by the MPF,” said Robert, a mobile phone dealer in this state capital.

Unlike in the past where poll rallies and meetings were organised to drum up support, electioneering this year is rather low key.

“This is because nobody would dare to go against the diktats of the church leaders,” Vanlalremruata said.

The Election Commission has appointed 18 observers to keep an eye on candidates and their campaigns.

Besides guidelines to have inexpensive campaigns, the MPF has also urged militant groups not to interfere in the elections. Some of the rebel groups in the northeast have their presence across the region and hence the appeal.

MPF general secretary Lalbiakmawia Ngente and Colney earlier met top leaders of the two warring factions of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN) and other militant outfits.

“We sought the help of the militant groups to ensure that no armed insurgent groups from neighbouring states interfere in the assembly polls,” Colney said.

In all, 150 candidates, mostly young, had submitted their nominations till Tuesday. Wednesday is the last date for filing nominations.

Chief Minister Zoramthanga, two former chief ministers - Lalthanhawla of Congress and Brig (retired) Thenphunga Sailo of the Mizoram People’s Conference (MPC) - and a host of bureaucrates are leading their respective parties in the polls.

Mizoram Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (PCCF) C. Ramhiuna, who took voluntary retirement from government service last week, and former Indian Police Service (IPS) officer Lalduhoma will also try their political fortunes.

Zoramthanga is pitted against United Democratic Alliance’s (UDA) H. Lalhmingthangi, a 32-year-old theologian, who last month resigned as secretary of the Presbyterian Women Fellowship (North East) in Champhai South constituency bordering Myanmar.

Another young student leader Lalhmachhuana Zofa will be fighting as an independent candidate against Zoramthanga in Champhai North seat. Three-time chief minister and state PCC chief Lalthanhawla is also facing a challenge from R. Lalhnuna, general secretary of the ruling MNF and a first-time contestant.

Young social activist Lalruatkima, who last month resigned as general secretary of the central committee of Young Mizo Association (YMA) is pitted against UDA’s chief ministerial candidate Sailo in the Aizawl West-II constituency.

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