A Mizoram minister had got a testimonial letter from his local church that details his work in and for the congregation. What has put him under the scanner is that it was published,in toto,in his partys local mouthpiece during campaigning.
Home Minister R Lalzirliana has not only found himself the subject of an ongoing probe into whether he violated the model code of conduct,but earned a subtle rebuke from Mizorams largest Christian denomination,the Presbyterian Church.
Candidates and political leaders in Christian-dominated Mizoram often flaunt their credentials as men and women of faith. Pamphlets about most candidates often detail their respective standing in their local churches,but these are usually paraphrased.
The publication of the incumbent home ministers testimonial letter,however,was printed in full,complete with the letterhead of the Armed Veng North Presbyterian Church and signatures of the congregations leaders.
A copy of the church testimonial,which details how the minister teaches Bible classes on Sundays and is financing seven Christian missionaries,appeared in the monthly Congress mouthpiece Tawi,also the name of his constituency.
Based on a complaint against this,the Mizoram poll office has initiated an inquiry under code-of-conduct violation rules and forwarded the findings to the Election Commission,whose reply is awaited as of now.
We have simply forwarded the findings to the EC. As of now,we ourselves do not yet know which code-of-conduct provisions may have been violated and are awaiting the ECs instructions, said joint chief electoral officer H Lalengmawia at a press conference he addressed with CEO Ashwani Kumar this weekend.
Meanwhile,the Presbyterian Church has issued a public statement as the issue became widely known. In the statement issued late last week in the name of the churchs top functionary,Moderator Rev Lalramliana Pachuau,it said,A testimonial letter is issued to those congregation members who are temporarily attending another congregations services for a temporary period. It is meant to be used between congregations,and should not be used to further an individuals interest,or to further political ambitions by its use as a means to advertise ones credentials.