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Mizoram Assembly Election 2018: BJP looks to make its mark in the state with highest concentration of tribals

The Assembly election for Mizoram will take place in December. As BJP looks to make a mark in a state which has key players like Congress and Mizoram National Front (MNF), here is a look at the state's important aspects:

Demographics

According to the 2011 census, the total population of Mizoram was 10,91,014. The rural population makes up 48.49 percent of the total population of the state, while the urban population is 51.51 percent. The sex ratio is 970 females per 1,000 males and the literacy rate in 2011 was 91.33 percent, both higher than the corresponding figures for India.

Around 95 percent of the state’s population is classified as Scheduled Tribe, making Mizoram the state with the highest concentration of tribal people. Around 87 percent of Mizos are Christians. Buddhists make up around 8 percent of the population, making them the largest minority.

Key issues

Like the Assam election in 2016, the Mizoram election in 2018 may see illegal immigration from neighbouring countries such as Myanmar, Bangladesh and Nepal become one of the most important issues. PTI reported in October 2017 that the state unit of BJP urged the Congress government in the state to detect and deport foreigners who have illegally entered the state from neighbouring countries. In December, a conglomerate of major civil societies and student associations of Mizoram urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to ensure that all illegal immigrants, especially Chakmas from Bangladesh, are deported.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

Infrastructure development will also likely be a key issue. During a public meeting in Aizawl in December, Modi said that the development of the Rih-Tiddim road and establishment of various rural ‘haat’ (flee markets) along the Mizoram-Myanmar will increase the volume of trade state. Modi had also said that the Centre launched the North East Special Infrastructure Scheme (NESIS) to fill in the gaps in basic facilities.

Unemployment is also one of the biggest problem. According to Indiaspend, the rapid development is not creating enough jobs and livelihood. Poverty is also an issue, with 20.40 percent of the population living below the poverty line in 2011-12. The two main reasons for poverty in the state are under-developed agriculture and unskilled labour. Tribals practise traditional and unscientific ‘jhum’ or slash-and-burn method of cultivation, in which land is cleared and vegetation burned to make way for new cultivable land.

The Bru refugee issue also continues to haunt the government. Its decision to undertake the physical repatriation of over 32,000 Brus lodged in six relief camps in North Tripura district from the second week of February could not take off due to legal reasons.

Officials who conducted the identification in the Tripura camps last year identified 32,857 people from 5,413 families as bona fide residents of Mizoram and for physical repatriation. However, the Supreme Court instructed the Mizoram government to not go ahead with the proposed repatriation process.

The Brus have been lodged in the camps since 1997 following exodus from Mizoram due to communal tension triggered by the murder of a forest official by Bru militants.

Political history

Mizoram was originally a part of Assam. It became a Union Territory in 1972. After a tripartite agreement was signed between the Centre, the Mizoram government and the erstwhile terrorist outfit Mizo National Front (MNF) in 1986 (ending two decades long terrorism in the northeastern state), Mizoram was established on 20 February, 1987.

Mizoram became the 23rd state of India and the first state polls were conducted in 1987, with a state Assembly of 40 seats. The state has a unicameral state legislature.

Although the Mizo National Front won the 1998 and 2003 state elections, the Congress has been in power under Chief Minister Lal Thanhawla since 2008, winning the polls in 2008 and 2013. Congress had also won the only parliamentary seat for Mizoram in the 2014 Lok Sabha election.

Electoral history

In the last state election in 2013, Congress won 34 out of 40 seats in the Assembly while the MNF won only five. Here is an infographic explaining the share of seats and votes by major parties in the past four elections:

Party Seats 2013 Vote Share 2013 Seats 2008 Vote share 2008 Seats 2003 Vote share 2003 Seats 1998 Vote share 1998
INC 34 44.61 32 38.89 12 30.06 6 29.77
MNF 5 28.66 3 30.65 21 31.69 21 24.99
MPC 1 6.15 2 10.38 3 16.16 12 20.44

 

Key players

The most important political leader in Mizoram is undoubtedly Chief Minister Lal Thanhawla. The 79-year-old Congress leader has been Mizoram chief minister five times. He landed himself in controversy in November after failing to provide information about owning land in Kolkata.

A Congress leader who sparked controversy and could impact the election significantly is Lalrobiaka, whose assets grew by a whopping 2,406 percent in just five years.

Another important leader is Leader of Opposition in Mizoram Vanlalzawma, the MNF leader. It will also be interesting to see whether BJP can make a significant mark in the 2018 Mizoram election.

But perhaps the most important players in the upcoming election will be the new political parties and alliances, which could make all the difference in the results.

With elections to the 40-member Assembly due by the end of next year, political alliances were forged while new political parties emerged during the year.

A new group called Zoram Exodus Movement (ZEM), formed by retired priests, retired government officials and senior journalists, announced an alliance with the Zoram Nationalist Party (ZN) and the Mizoram People’s Conference (MPC) under the banner of Zoram People’s Movement (ZPM).

Anti-corruption watchdog People’s Right to Information and Development Implementation Society of Mizoram (PRISM) converted itself into a political party as People’s Representation for Identity and Status of Mizoram and retained its abbreviated form:  PRISM.

The Maraland Democratic Front (MDF), earlier an ally of the Opposition Mizo National Front (MNF), merged with the BJP on 25 October along with its two members of district council (MDCs) in the Mara Autonomous District Council.


Published Date: Feb 01, 2018 21:14 PM | Updated Date: Feb 01, 2018 21:17 PM

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