An Un­demo­cratic De­mand in Mi­zo­ram

The dis­pute has pan-In­dia im­pli­ca­tions

The Economic Times - - Breaking Ideas -

An elec­toral dis­pute in Mi­zo­ram must be re­solved on prin­ci­ple rather than guided by ex­pe­di­ence. On Novem­ber 28, Mi­zo­ram, the re­motest state in In­dia, will elect leg­is­la­tors for all 40 as­sem­bly seats. With only one Lok Sabha seat, the state car­ries lit­tle weight in na­tional pol­i­tics, but re­cent events there are of pan-In­dia im­por­tance. The state’s cen­trally ap­pointed chief elec­toral of­fi­cer (CEO) is at log­ger­heads with chief min­is­ter Lal Than­hawla and pow­er­ful or­gan­i­sa­tions that swing opin­ion and pol­icy. The lat­ter want CEO S B Shashank re­moved. The CEO wants mem­bers of a tribe called Bru in Mi­zo­ram and Reang else­where in the north­east, to vote in these elec­tions, but Mi­zos will have none of that.

From the late 1990s, Vaish­navaite-an­i­mist Reangs, whose ori­gins lie in Tripura, have fled Mi­zo­ram fol­low­ing per­se­cu­tion by a sec­tion of Chris­tian Mi­zos. Chris­tians hap­pen to com­prise nearly 90% of Mi­zo­ram’s pop­u­la­tion. The Reangs want to vote ei­ther from refugee camps in Tripura and As­sam, or in poll booths on the Tripura-Mi­zo­ram bor­der. They fear for their safety if forced to vote in booths within Mi­zo­ram. Mi­zos, who refuse to ac­knowl­edge Reangs or Brus as mem­bers of ‘their’ so­ci­ety, be­lieve this is a con­spir­acy of New Delhi to un­der­mine Mi­zos. Things have come to such a pass that Lal Than­hawla was pre­vented from fil­ing his nom­i­na­tion pa­pers by ag­i­ta­tors. All this goes against the grain of our Constitution that makes every In­dian of any faith, caste or creed equal in the demo­cratic process. If Reangs or Brus are pre­vented from ex­er­cis­ing their demo­cratic right by ma­jori­tar­ian pres­sure in Mi­zo­ram, what is to prevent ma­jor­ity Hin­dus from snatch­ing away vot­ing rights from Mus­lims or other mi­nori­ties in, say, Ut­tar Pradesh, Bi­har or As­sam?

The rule of a ma­jori­tar­ian mob by brute force will wreck In­dia’s claim to be the largest and most di­verse democ­racy in the world. It has the po­ten­tial to dam­age demo­cratic in­sti­tu­tions in In­dia just as the per­se­cu­tion of Ro­hingyas and Balochs has dented rep­u­ta­tions in Yan­gon and Is­lam­abad. The Cen­tre must back the elec­tion com­mis­sion, and up­hold democ­racy.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from India

© PressReader. All rights reserved.