Clean Election Movement in Nagaland: ‘It’s a sin to trade votes’
Kohima, Aug. 6 (EMN): Dirty practices during elections have permeated deep into the system of Naga society, said General Secretary of Nagaland Baptist Church Council (NBCC), Rev. Dr. Zelhou Keyho.
He was speaking during the launch of “Clean Election Movement” in Kohima on Friday, which was held ahead of the 2023 general election. The campaign was spearheaded by NBCC in 2012 with an aim to urge the people to vote right.
‘Dirty practices have permeated deep into our system. A small needle is finding difficult to remove the dirty practices and evils that are practiced during election. The church must say it is a sin,’ he said.
The reverend said he believed that ‘Nagas still have a conscience of fear when church says it is sinful practices and sin against God’.
“It is a sin to buy someone else’s vote. It is sinful to sell your vote; because it is your birthright,” Keyho added.
Make clean election new normal
Peace activist Niketu Iralu said that a healthy society is of great significance, not just in material terms, but also in the moral, spiritual and character growth of the people.
He observed that NBCC was more determined and committed towards challenging Christians to keep the election process clean.
“We have declared our stand to fight for clean elections to become the new normal practice in the society we have produced together during the last decades. We must never forget that the harsh realities of this society have completely baffled our people,” he said.
Before general elections are announced, he believed that contemplation and search for God’s guidance and wisdom would show clear roadmap and specific targets it should concentrate on.
He proposed some points for consideration even as the clean election movement was launched.
The Church in Nagaland is an awakening giant, becoming deeply disturbed by the changes around the world, Iralu observed, adding that this could cause Nagaland’s destruction by default of not thinking enough, or make Nagaland show what the just society on earth- the kingdom of God on earth really means.
He called upon the church to come together and answer three questions: What is the kingdom of God on earth as it is in Heaven? Where is it? And when is it?
This clarification, he believed, ‘would profoundly change politics, governance, development, and relationships among ourselves and with neighbours in the Northeast region’.
The peace activist further suggested that each church of the NBCC be given the responsibility of forming small counselling or advisory cells of three or four persons, who would be able to speak or act on matters arising out of the election.
Politics is not dirty, don’t misuse it
Convenor of Clean Election Movement, Dr. Villo Naleo, in his keynote address, said that the movement’s stand is loud and clear- politics is not dirty and it should not be misused.
“In a context where majority are Christians, if Christians do not involve in politics, there is one hundred percent chance that we are giving opportunity to a non-Christian government in a Christian-dominated state,” he observed.
‘The movement is not against the ‘Naga national’ cause. Nagaland is a part of political aggression, for that reason there were instances of boycotting of the Indian elections in the early years of the statehood. Yet, the situation having changed today, people must use the opportunity given to develop Nagaland and manage the resources ethically,’ he added.
The Centre is funding a lot of projects in Nagaland and people need to elect capable leaders to manage the resources, he said, adding that the government has recognised Nagas political rights and people are also responsible for electing the right leaders.
He said that Nagas should transform its crisis into something promising for tomorrow instead of blaming the past and becoming complacent. He added that that other Christian denominations, NGOs, civil societies, student bodies, and women organisations are all part of this movement.
To those criticising the Clean Election Movement, he said what the church could do today is worth it. ‘It is time people elect leaders who will increase the state’s GDP and not only depend on the central government for development. For that to happen, it is crucial for voters to keep the process, progress, and the programme clean,’ Naleo said.
‘NBCC plays a non-partisan role to all political parties; our motive is not to govern but to campaign for electing a righteous, God-fearing and honest candidate who will testify God in his or her political career. Christians must be witnesses in political success,’ he maintained.
He believed that people can elect those who can represent the government and become the protectors of justice. Clean Election Movement is a social responsibility for every Christian in Nagaland.
He further maintained that election is an exercise everyone must engage in. It is one’s duty to exercise the adult franchise, but in the right way, he said, adding: “Let us vote out corruption and let us vote in honesty, sincerity and justice,”
The Clean Election Movement was also endorsed by student bodies such as Naga Students’ Federation and All Nagaland College Students’ Union.