Mizo National Front (MNF) regained power in Mizoram after a decade of Congress rule. The MNF, led by veteran Zoramthanga, got a majority in the 40-member assembly.
Mizoram was the last Congress stronghold in the Northeast.
Congress fared poorly as the outgoing Chief Minister Lal Thanhawla lost from both the seats he contested -- Champhai South and Serchhip. He lost Champhai to MNF’s TJ Lalnuntluanga, while Serchhip was won by Zoram People's Movement's (ZPM) chief ministerial candidate Lalduhoma.
Ten years ago, MNF chief Zoramthanga faced similar fate. He had lost two seats in 2013.
Infighting has been one of the major reasons for Congress’ loss. “Yes, definitely, Congress has been robbed by internal fights and dissident activities. On the eve of the elections, 11 sitting MLAs were denied party tickets. Out of these 11 MLAs, five opted out of the party. Two former ministers and prominent Congress leaders, who joined MNF, have been elected today. Another former minister joined BJP and he too has been elected. That’s how Congress helped BJP to open its account in Mizoram or else BJP has no influence here,” Prof Jangkhongam Doungel of Mizoram University told Outlook.
Buddha Ram Chakma, who quit Congress and joined the BJP just before the elections, helped the saffron party to open its account in Mizoram.
The Congress vote bank has been attacked by the ZPM. “That’s why ZPM is coming up unexpectedly. And now ZPM will be more dominant than the Congress in the coming days,” Doungel added.
The MNF, a constituent of the BJP-led North East Democratic Alliance (NEDA), is a platform of non-Congress parties of the region and has also supported the National Democratic Alliance (NDA).
NEDA was aware that allying with the BJP will not be a wise decision in the Christian-majority state. Though the saffron party tried to make a loud entry, it has failed miserably and that was almost predictable.
Doungel, however, says that though the Congress has been defeated, it’s not because of the BJP. “Though many want to term it the BJP’s mission to oust the Congress, I would differ here. It’s MNF who has done it singlehandedly. Even the NEDA has no influence in Mizoram,” Doungel added.
Majority of the youths, especially the first time and second time voters, sought a change. Development and new job opportunities were on their priority list. The result indicates that the Congress, over the last ten years, somehow failed to live up to the expectations of the people.
Senior journalist and political commentator Samudra Gupta Kashyap says Lalthanhawla has been there for a long time and the need for a change was in the air.
“People have been looking for a change, especially the youths. They have also seen the region has gone for a change. And in Mizoram, MNF is the most viable and acceptable alternative,” Kashyap said.
The MNF ruled Mizoram for 10 years -- 1998-2003 and 2003-2008. It won five seats in the 2013 Assembly polls.
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