Aizawl, Mizoram: The Mizo National Front (MNF) rode the anti-incumbency wave to 26 seats in the 40-member Assembly, and with it the right to form the government. This was a massive improvement from 2013, when the MNF won only five seats. The Congress suffered a huge disappointment, nabbing only five seats, after an impressive performance in the previous Assembly polls, when it won 34 seats.
Outgoing chief minister Lal Thanhawla lost both constituencies—Champhai South and Serchhip—he was contesting from. In Champhai South, he lost to TJ Lalnuntluanga of the MNF while in Serchhip he lost to Lalduhoma of the Zoram People Movement (ZPM).
The ZPM, which did not win any seats in 2013 and won only two in 2008, secured eight seats this time, while BJP finally opened their account, winning one seat. The People’s Right to Information and Development Implementation Society of Mizoram (PRISM), an anti-corruption watchdog which transformed into a political party in November 2017, did not fare well. The party, contesting from 13 seats, failed to win a single one. PRISM leader Vanlalruata, contesting from Aizawl North 1 and Serchhip, secured 79 and 29 votes respectively from the constituencies.
This time around there were 15 women candidates, but none of them won a seat. Congress' Vanlalawmpuii Chawngthu, the only woman in the state Assembly (who won the Hrangturzo constituency by-election in May 2014) after Chief Minister Lal Thanhawla vacated this seat to keep the Serchhip Assembly constituency with him, lost to the MNF's Lalchamliana. The MNF's vote share was 37.6 percent while the Congress polled 30.2 percent of the votes. In 2013, the Congress secured the largest vote share with 44.6 percent, while the MNF had secured 28.7 percent votes. The BJP improved its vote share to 8 percent, compared to just 0.4 percent in 2013.
Strong anti- incumbency
The people voted for a change after 10 years of Congress rule. This isn't a new development. In fact, the Congress lost to the MNF in 1998 Assembly elections after being in power for almost 10 years. In 2008, the MNF lost its mandate to the Congress and Lal Thanhawla took charge as chief minister.
MNF leader Zoramthanga won from Aizawl East 1 with 8,358 votes. He said the people of Mizoram have suffered a lot in the 10 years of Congress rule. He served as the chief minister from December 1998 to December 2008 and is the MNF’s chief ministerial candidate.
“We are going to form a government alone with a single majority. If the mandate comes in a different manner and we fall short of the required number, we'll collaborate with smaller parties, avoiding BJP and Congress," he said.
There was a sense of anti-incumbency and we tried to fight hard against it, said professor Maliana, Mizoram Congress spokesperson. “Issues such as bad roads and lack of development went against us. We failed to focus on the Congress' achievements. We congratulate the BJP for opening its account.”
BJP falls short
The BJP failed in its quest to make inroads into the northeastern state, securing only one seat. In 2013, it didn't win a single seat. Before the votes had been counted, Mizoram BJP president JV Hluna said they hoped to win three to five seats and that the party would be a part of the government in case of a hung Assembly.
Hluna contested from the Tawi constituency and lost to RLalzirliana of MNF who secured 4,940 votes. Lalzirliana was the former home minister who quit the Congress in September to join the MNF.
Other Congress leaders who quit to join the BJP included former Mizoram Assembly speaker Hiphei and BD Chakma. While Hiphei lost his seat from Palak constituency to KT Rokhlow of Congress, Chakma emerged victorious from Twichawng with 10,986 votes to win the only seat for BJP.
Vijay Lakshmi Rai, president of BJP's women wing, Mizoram, said she is happy that BJP opened its account. She added, “The other parties used religion as a weapon against us. They involved the church as a part of the campaign and I strongly condemn it.”
The BJP fielded six female candidates, without any success. “But we are not going home. Our fight against addiction and lack of development will continue. I am happy that Zomramthanga is going to become the chief minister. I hope he bans alcohol in Mizoram again because this is ruining the young generation,” she said.
ZPM plays spoiler
The Zoram People’s Movement (ZPM) won eight seats, three more than the Congress."Trends show the MNF is forming the government with a clear majority but we are second and the reason behind our defeat is the ZPM," said Mizoram Congress spokesperson professor Maliana. He said voters who supported Congress in the past two elections voted for ZPM this time.
Lalduhoma emerged as the winner from the Aizawl West 1 constituency with 7,709 votes, followed by the MNF’s Sangthuama, who polled 6,646 votes. Lalduhoma also emerged as the winner in Serchhip with 5,471 votes, defeating the Thanhawla, who secured 5,071 votes.
Lalduhoma, 69, is a former IPS officer and has spoken in multiple interviews about how Mizoram is looking for a change. ZPM spokesperson Upa Dawngkima said the Mizo people wanted a change and they voted for MNF and ZPM.
“This mandate shows the failure of the Congress and we are happy to see this. There are no good roads. People are addicted to drugs and alcohol. The MNF is getting a clear mandate and we are winning in at least three seats. We are going to support the MNF from outside but won’t be a part of the government,” Dawngkima said.
Angarika Gogoi is a Bengaluru-based freelance writer and a member of 101Reporters.com
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Updated Date: Dec 11, 2018 19:45 PM