A former IPS officer who became the first MP to be disqualified under the Anti-Defection Law, Lalduhoma is the chief ministerial face of the Zoram People’s Movement (ZPM), a five-year-old regional party that is shaping up to be the strongest challenger of the ruling Mizo National Front (MNF) in poll-bound Mizoram. Seeking re-election from the Serchhip constituency, he tells The Hindu why voters in Mizoram will reject the MNF, which he says diluted its identity by aligning with the BJP. Excerpts:
Why will the people reject the MNF?
A wind of change is blowing across Mizoram because the people are fed up with the large-scale corruption and nepotism during the MNF rule. Despite the financial crisis the State is facing, very few [people who are] close to Chief Minister Zoramthanga are getting all the contracts and supplies. Even the MNF party workers are not happy with him. The people have had enough of the MNF and Congress, which have been in power for a long time.
What makes you confident of a ZPM victory?
People want a change from the same parties with the same old people raising the same old slogans. Of our 40 candidates, 33 are fresh faces with fresh ideas for a new system of administration, land reforms and economic development. We have promised to help farmers, women, and develop the skills of youth through a hand-holding policy. Mizoram’s youth and women have become very politically conscious to weigh the parties. The people’s agenda is the installation of a non-MNF and non-Congress government, for which ZPM is the only alternative. Besides, we are the only party to have made a public commitment not to take bribes.
But hasn’t the MNF stolen a march over its rivals on the issue of ‘Zo unification’?
The MNF cannot monopolise this issue [primarily involving Manipur’s displaced Kuki-Zo people, ethnically related to the majority Mizos of Mizoram] just because they are in the government and have more resources at their disposal. All political parties, NGOs, church, and other organisations are equally concerned about the displaced Kukis and are taking care of them. This is a humanitarian issue and we have chosen not to derive political mileage out of it. The British divided the people belonging to the Zo family [Mizos, Kukis, and Chins of Myanmar and Bangladesh] into three countries and several States in India. All of us seek a singular administration, which is permissible under Article 3 of the Constitution.
Do the ZMP and BJP have a tacit understanding?
It was unbecoming of a leader of the stature of Rahul Gandhi to indicate we have a tacit understanding. [The Congress leader had said that the MNF and the ZPM are entry points for the BJP in Mizoram.] We saw how the Congress and the BJP came together to form the Chakma Autonomous District Council in our State in 2018. ZPM is a genuine regional party with a national outlook. Unlike the MNF, which diluted its identity by being a part of the [BJP-helmed] National Democratic Alliance and the North East Democratic Alliance, we will protect our [identity] because we do not want to be dictated from Delhi.