Mizoram 2018

Mizoram Assembly Elections 2018: Can Congress hold on to its last N-E bastion?

Right to vote: Some 12,000 Bru voters who are staying in relief camps will be exercising their franchise at special booths in Kahnmun, a village in Mizoram.  

Christian-majority State of Mizoram votes on Wednesday to decide whether the Congress will hold on to its last bastion in the North-East or make way for a change of government.

But for the first time since it attained statehood in 1986, Mizoram is unsure whether the Congress’s traditional rival Mizo National Front (MNF) or another political entity would be that ‘change.’ Much of this uncertainty is attributed to an aggressive Bharatiya Janata Party queering the poll pitch in a State where it had been content with a token presence in all past elections since 1993.

BJP rules in six of eight North-Eastern States, either on its own or in alliance with regional parties. The BJP had roped in Chakma and Reang (Bru) leaders from Tripura to strike a chord with their fellow tribespeople in Mizoram.

Mizoram’s electorate has never given a fractured verdict. Zoramthanga-led MNF ruled the State for 10 years (1998-2008), between two double terms of the Congress led by Lal Thanhawla. Both parties started off claiming to have the upper-hand this time, but their confidence levels apparently dipped as the polling day approached.

Mizoram Assembly Elections 2018: Can Congress hold on to its last N-E bastion?

Mr. Thanhawla was initially sure that his party would beat the anti-incumbency factor and do better than the 34 seats it won in the 40-seat Assembly in the 2013 election. Less than a week before the day of voting, he said the Congress was open to an alliance with “like-minded” parties.

The MNF, otherwise a member of the BJP-helmed North East Democratic Alliance, left no stone unturned to appear detached from the “Hindutva party.” It aired suspicions about the possibility of the BJP striking a deal with the Congress or the unregistered Zoram People’s Movement (ZPM), whose candidates are contesting as independents.

Though the Congress and the MNF claimed to be the main parties in the fray, their attack was invariably against the BJP. An “unnatural” alliance with the BJP for the Chakma Autonomous District Council haunted the Congress too.

The BJP, concentrating on 11 seats dominated by the minority Bru, Chakma and Mara communities, came into the mix by claiming it has “friends” in all the parties, including the Congress, for a post-poll alliance. “The Chief Minister himself wanted to join us along with other Congress leaders,” State BJP chief and key candidate J.V. Hluna had said. The Congress brushed this aside as a ‘joke’.

Despite the BJP’s unprecedented effort, the Congress and the MNF remain the key players.

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Printable version | Mar 6, 2021 3:27:42 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/elections/mizoram-assembly-elections-2018/mizoram-assembly-elections-2018-can-congress-hold-on-to-its-last-n-e-bastion/article25608204.ece

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