Mizoram 2018

Legends from a troubled past matter in Mizoram’s polls

Laldenga's grave and memorial at Treasury Square, the nerve centre of Aizawl.   | Photo Credit: Rahul Karmakar

Two legends from a troubled past continue to matter in Mizoram’s polls years after their death.

Laldenga, a revolutionary hailed as the ‘Father of the Mizo Nation’, died in July 1990 — two years after his Mizo National Front (MNF) government was toppled.

The other legend, Brigadier Thenphunga Sailo, died in March 2015 at age 93. The November 28 election would be Mizoram’s first since 1978 without him.

Many of the State’s young voters have little or no emotional attachment with the two legends, but the political parties swear by their ideologies or the ideas they put forth for a better Mizoram.

“We are what we are today because of Pu [Mizo honorific] Laldenga and what he stood for,” MNF general secretary T.C. Pachhunga told The Hindu.

Ironically, some leaders of MNF who Laldenga had nurtured defected to the Congress a year after his party won the 1987 Assembly election. He was not the same man again and died of cancer.

Laldenga had founded the MNF as a famine front in 1955 to fight the Centre’s indifference to Mautam, a rat-induced famine that killed more than 100 people. He converted the MNF into an extremist outfit in 1961, declared independence from the Indian Union in 1966 but signed a peace deal with New Delhi in 1986.


Laldenga.   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Among the Laldenga loyalists in the fray are former Chief Minister Zoramthanga contesting the Aizawl East-I seat, former Assembly Speaker Lalchamliana (Hrangturzo) and former Home Minister Tawnluia (Tuichang).

The Congress too has the imprint of Laldenga. Chief Minister Lal Thanhawla served in the legend’s underground outfit for a year before his arrest in 1967 followed by joining the Congress. He is contesting two seats — Serchhip and Champhai South.

Another former underground member of MNF in the Congress is Horticulture Minister P.C. Lalthanliana, who is contesting the Lunglei North seat.

Brigadier’s son

Brigadier T Sailo.

Brigadier T Sailo.   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Soon after retiring from the Indian Army, Brigadier Sailo found himself fighting the same battle as Laldenga — against alleged Army excesses — but from the right side of the law. His son Lalhmangaiha Sailo, a former Indian Revenue Service officer, is a Zoram People’s Movement (ZPM) candidate for the Aizawl West-II seat.

“We miss his presence, but he is omnipresent because the beneficiary packages most parties are promising the voters are based on his Garden Colony [grow more food] livelihood programme conceived in 1984,” Mr. Sailo said.

If the Congress adopted and evolved Brigadier Sailo’s concept into the New Land Use Policy (NLUP), the MNF has promised a variant called Socio-Economic Development Policy. The Bharatiya Janata Party, keen on ejecting the Congress from the last north-eastern State, has made a commitment to implement an improved version of NLUP.

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Printable version | Feb 28, 2021 1:08:30 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/elections/mizoram-assembly-elections-2018/legends-from-a-troubled-past-matter-in-mizorams-polls/article25601623.ece

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