Two top spokespersons of the ruling Congress party in Mizoram have quit from their posts as publishers of the party mouthpiece following outrage over a questionnaire that targets pastors over the Church’s opposition to the lifting of prohibition.
David M Thangliana and James Thanghmingmawia have submitted their resignations to state party president and Chief Minister Lal Thanhawla saying the questionnaire, published in the July issue of the Congress Thlifim newsletter, has “deeply wounded the sentiments of the church and disgraced the party”.
David, a former journalist, is secretary of the Congress’ media department. James, a former president of the Mizo Zirlai Pawl students’ union, is the department’s chairman.
The questionnaire the duo refer to in their resignation letter had asked readers to name pastors who have been criticising the Congress government over the lifting of prohibition.
It also leaves space to mark the pastors’ current place of posting, and also carries seven options where readers can mark where and on which platform the pastor made adverse comments against the party or the government.
The questionnaire had caused outrage and has been the subject of considerable online debate, especially on social media, where on one post a user identifying himself as a pastor asked members to mark the seventh option, which says “Everywhere he [the pastor] goes”.
Mizoram lifted 18 years of prohibition by enacting a new law last year and opening liquor retail shops in March.
While the church has been vocal against the lifting of prohibition and church members have picketed at least one liquor shop, it has largely been community-based organisations and neighbourhood groups who have been the most active in not allowing liquor shops to open in their vicinities.