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Mizoram: Can Zoramthanga Win The Race For MNF?

First Published: 13th October, 2023 14:43 IST

Well, for the polls on November 7, Mizoram's 8.52 lakh voters could well be hit by a problem of plenty

The big political news from the Northeast are the upcoming Assembly elections in Mizoram, where the ruling Mizo National Front will be fighting three major parties – the Zoram People’s Movement, Congress and the BJP. So, what’s different this time round?
Well, for the polls on November 7, Mizoram’s 8.52 lakh voters could well be hit by a problem of plenty. This is because the four major parties — MNF, ZPM, Congress and BJP — have decided to contest all the 40 Assembly seats in the State. While the MNF and the ZPM have already declared their candidates, the Congress and BJP will come out with their lists anytime now.

The big question in everybody’s mind is whether the MNF will be able to return to power. Well, MNF’s legendary leader and Chief Minister Zoramthanga said this week that his party is soaked in the blood of martyrs and is sure to win the coming elections. MNF leaders say their confidence comes from the track record of development and stability that the party claims to have brought about in Mizoram during the past five years. Such statements make it clear that the MNF would primarily harp on the development plank during the run-up to the polls.
The BJP, which is the lead constituent of the NDA, of which the MNF is a partner, may not like to launch a frontal attack on the MNF, its regional ally. But nothing prevents the Congress from going all out against the Zoramthanga Government or the MNF as such.
Already, the Congress has started upping the ante, accusing the MNF Government of having indulged in large-scale corruption, giving an example that a minister’s brother had managed to corner mega contracts during the past five years. The Congress has also blamed the MNF Government for the poor condition of the roads and other infrastructure in the state.
But what could be the approach of the ZPM, considered the main rival of the MNF this elections? Well, a distinct indication was given this week by ZPM leader Lalduhoma who said while addressing the party’s block level cadres that utmost importance would be given to the agriculture sector as 60 percent of Mizoram’s 13.80 lakh population depend on agriculture for their livelihood.
Lalduhoma said agriculture fields would be developed using modern machinery, and gentle slope areas would be made suitable for terrace farming or jhum cultivation. He elaborated in great details to say, hill areas would be turned into biodiversity hotspots and increase green cover.
The ZPM leader also promised to set up three new dams to generate 274 MW of additional power. This gives us an idea that the ZPM may have decided on carrying out a positive campaign to project itself as a suitable alternative to the MNF.
But, one must not also lose sight of the fact that the ongoing ethnic unrest in neighbouring Manipur will, in all probability, have a big impact on the Mizoram elections. Already, the ruling MNF and its leader, Chief Minister Zoramthanga has been openly talking about the need to re-unify the areas in the neighbourhood inhabited by the Zo community. The MNF is not shy of talking about the Greater Mizoram idea with the unification or merger of the Zo inhabited areas to the existing Mizoram state.
In Manipur, the Kuki-Zo community has openly declared that they cannot live with the majority Meiteis anymore after the current violence and have therefore demanded what they call a Separate Administration. The MNF in response says the demand by the Zo community in Manipur for a Separate Administration has actually prepared the ground for the party’s Zo reunification idea that is as old as the MNF itself.
Now, can parties like the ZPM or even the Congress openly reject the Zo reunification or the Greater Mizoram idea propounded by the MNF? These parties may decide to play safe and skirt the issue, but certainly they cannot openly reject or oppose the demand at this juncture where people’s minds are filled with emotions.
If we are to talk about a personality clash this elections, it will obviously revolve around few leaders with Chief Minister Zoramthanga leading the pack.
At the end of the day, voters are king in any election and we have to wait until December 3 to know who manage to have the last laugh in Mizoram.

Also Read: Mizoram: Fmr MNF leader Lalrinliana Sailo joins BJP, says party will win 5-8 seats, up from 1 in 2018

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