Mizoram Assembly polls | Party led by ex-IPS officer wrests power from BJP ally in Mizoram

Among the MNF’s losers was Chief Minister Zoramthanga while Congress could manage one seat

December 04, 2023 03:33 pm | Updated 10:14 pm IST - GUWAHATI

Lalduhoma, Zoram People’s Movement chief and party’s Chief Minister candidate for Mizoram

Lalduhoma, Zoram People’s Movement chief and party’s Chief Minister candidate for Mizoram | Photo Credit: PTI

A regional party led by a former Indian Police Service (IPS) officer has wrested power from the Mizo National Front (MNF), an ally of the BJP at the Centre, in Christian-majority Mizoram.

The Zoram People’s Movement (ZPM) won 27 seats, six more than the majority mark in the 40-member Mizoram Assembly, on Monday. The outcome negated predictions that the elections held on November 7 would be multi-cornered with the Congress and the BJP in the picture.

Led by Mr. Lalduhoma, an ex-IPS officer who was in charge of the security of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in 1982, the ZPM virtually made it a single-party show with the MNF bagging 10 seats, half of them by slender margins.

Also Read | Mizoram Assembly Election Results 2023 updates |

C. Ngunlianchunga proved to be the saving grace for Congress, which ruled Mizoram for more than 22 years, by winning the Lawngtlai West seat. The party had won five seats in 2018, down from 34 in 2013.

The biggest gainer, however, was the BJP which swept southern Mizoram’s Siaha district by winning both seats there. But it drew a bank in the Buddhist Chakma-dominated areas where it had won its only seat in 2018.

“We tried our best despite facing several challenges. We accept the people’s verdict,” Chief Minister Zoramthanga, also the president of the MNF, said after losing the Aizawl East-I seat to ZPM newcomer Lalthansanga by 2,101 votes.

He met Governor Hari Babu Kambhampati in the afternoon to tender his resignation as the Chief Minister.

Also Read | Triangular contest: On the Mizoram Assembly elections

Mr. Lalduhoma, who was the first MP and also the first MLA in Mizoram to be disqualified under the anti-defection law, said the election result was expected given the groundswell of support from the people, who were desperate for a change.

“The challenge now is to live up to the expectations of the people with our promise of a new system of governance for improving the State’s financial condition and supporting our farmers, the mainstay of our economy,” he told journalists after winning the Serchhip constituency comfortably.

The new system entails forming a resource mobilisation team, looking at austerity measures, disinvestment, and manpower assessment, Mr. Lalduhoma said, adding that all the victorious candidates have been asked to assemble in the State’s capital Aizawl on Tuesday.

Mizoram constituency-wise winning party after elections in 2013, 2018, and 2023 by Net Desk

He would meet Governor Hari Babu Kambhampati on Tuesday and stake claim to form the government.

The ZPM was formed ahead of the 2018 election by merging six regional entities, including the Zoram Nationalist Party that Mr. Lalduhoma headed. Eight ZPM candidates had won in that election, contesting as independent candidates as the party was not recognised by Election Commission of India then.

Mostly newcomers

Apart from the promise of a clean system different from those of the MNF and Congress, the ZPM’s victory has been attributed to the largely fresh faces it fielded. More than 82% of its candidates were newcomers, including former India footballer Jeje Lalpekhlua who won the South Tuipui seat and retired Army officer, Lt Col Clement Lalhmingthanga who won the Champhai South seat.

Also Read | ZPM not to join NDA or INDIA bloc if comes to power in Mizoram: Lalduhoma

Among the top winners was K. Beichhua, a former Minister who quit the MNF to win the Saiha constituency on a BJP ticket, and Sports Minister Robert Romawia Royte of the MNF.

At least six Ministers of the MNF lost. They included Deputy Chief Minister Tawnluia (Tuichang seat), Rural Development Minister Lalruatkima (Aizawl West-II), Social Welfare Minister Lalrinawma (Tuikum), and Agriculture Minister C. Lalrinsanga (Lunglei West).

Crucial factor

Lalmalsawma Khiangte, who teaches at the Government Aizawl College, said the outcome was more a matter of the MNF losing the support of the BJP than the ZPM gaining it, as was the buzz ahead of the polls. Congress leader Rahul Gandhi had triggered speculations over a tacit ZPM-BJP understanding by saying the MNF and the ZPM were entry points for the BJP in Mizoram.

“The MNF was in a dilemma about their relationship with the BJP or NDA (National Democratic Alliance). The anti-BJP face at the State-level and pro-NDA outlook at the central level backfired for them,” Prof. Khiangte told The Hindu.

This apart, the people’s disappointment with the performance of the MNF and the Congress helped the ZPM win big. The MNF did try to capitalise on the issue of ‘Zo reunification’ by sheltering Kuki and Chin refugees from Manipur, Myanmar, and Bangladesh, but their poor performance clouded the issue, Prof. Khiangte said.

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