A church-backed election watchdog in Mizoram on Monday sought action against political parties over the alleged violation of the model code of conduct (MCC) during the election campaign in connection with the forthcoming by-poll to Tuirial assembly seat in Kolasib district slated for October 30. 

Mizoram People’s Forum (MPF), an independent body formed to oversee and monitor free and fair elections in the state, filed a complaint with Kolasib district election officer and deputy commissioner seeking the intervention of the election department to look into the alleged violation of the MCC by political parties and thereby take necessary action against those involved. 

The forum said there were numerous violations of the MCC for the upcoming bypoll to Tuirial assembly constituency. 

It said that there are many visuals and documents showing the corrupt practices of some political parties, which were a manifestation of contravention of clause I (4) of the MCC, it said. 

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“I have enclosed herewith some video clips and documents showing the corrupt practices of some political parties to prove the violation of Clause No. I(4) ‘corrupt practices’ of Model Code of Conduct,” the petition signed by the forum general secretary Rev. R. Lalnuntluanga said. 

“I, therefore, request your kind office to take necessary action against those political parties involved for the violation of Model Code of Conduct,” the petition added. 

Clause I (4) of the MCC states that all parties and candidates shall avoid scrupulously all activities which are “corrupt practices” and offences under the election law, such as bribing of voters, intimidation of voters, impersonation of voters, canvassing within 100 meters of polling stations, holding public meetings during the period of 48 hours ending with the hour fixed for the close of the poll, and the transport and conveyance of voters to and from polling station. 

Meanwhile, a leader of the forum told reporters that there were numerous violations of the model code of conduct set by the Election Commission of India (ECI) and terms of the memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed between political parties and MPF by political parties during election campaign recently. 

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He alleged that some political parties were distributing money and rations to canvass voters, and also bribed voters by helping them through social services.  

He further alleged that some parties also organised community feasts, which is strictly prohibited during campaign trials as per the MoU or guidelines between the MPF and parties. 

The MPF was formed in 2006 by various major churches, including Mizoram Presbyterian Church, the largest denomination in the hilly state, to monitor free and fair elections. 

The forum also works with major civil society organisations like Young Mizo Association (YMA), Mizo Hmeichhe Insuihkhawm Pawl (MHIP) or Mizo Women’s federation and Mizoram Upa Pawl (MUP) or Mizoram Elders’ Association. 

MPF functions as a poll watchdog in the state and it used to issue guidelines to be followed by political parties in line with the ECI’s model code of conduct. 

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Sometime, it used to monitor selection of candidates, expenses incurred by parties, and even micro-managing, what should or should not figure in poll manifestos. 

It organises “common platform”, a public meeting for contesting candidates, where they deliver lectures and take queries from the audience. 

The MPF role has contributed a lot to free and fair elections in the state in the past. 

 Its role, however, is limited because it has no arbitrary power to punish any political parties that violate the MCC or MoU or guidelines. 

At least 4 candidates from the ruling Mizo National Front (MNF), Zoram People’s Movement (ZPM), Congress and BJP are in the fray for the bypoll to Tuirial seat, necessitated by the demise of its incumbent legislator Andrew H. Thangliana of ZPM. 

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Counting of votes will be held on November 2. 

According to election officials, a total of 17,911 electorates, including 9,092 female voters, will exercise their franchise in the coming bypoll. 

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