Mizoram to go for polls on Tuesday


Issues of “identity” and people’s welfare gained centrestage in the campaign for assembly polls in Mizoram, with the state slated to go to the polls for its 40 seats on Tuesday.

Mizoram will be among the five states that will go to the polls this month, with counting of votes in all states to take place on December 3. Issues of “neglect of infrastructure”, corruption and unemployment also figured during the campaigns of various parties.

The main contest in the state, with almost all its seats reserved for STs, is between the ruling Mizo National Front (MNF), Congress, and Zoram People’s Movement with the BJP keen to emerge as “king maker”.

Ethnic clashes in neighbouring Manipur have cast a shadow on the polls and the ruling MNF, led by Chief Minster Zoramthanga, is hopeful of the people supporting stance of the party of giving refuge to some Kuki-Zo community members who came from the neighbouring state. Some Zo-Kukis from Myanmar have also taken refuge in the state. Observers said MNF has tried to make ‘Zo unification’ an electoral issue.

While MNF is part of BJP-led National Democratic Alliance at the Centre, there is no alliance between the two parties at the state level.

The Congress has also raised issues of culture and identity and has attacked the BJP over the issue. It has also reminded people of the Mizo accord which heralded peace in the state.

BJP leaders have talked about their commitment to the welfare of people of the state.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who gave a video message to the people of the state, said that the BJP has strived to address the aspirations of people in the northeast and talked of creating “marvellous Mizoram”.

“Before 2014, people perceived the northeastern states, such as Mizoram, as distant from Delhi both physically and psychologically. The BJP recognized this sense of distance and, after coming into power as part of the NDA government in 2014, made it a priority to bridge this gap by addressing the aspirations and needs of the northeastern states,” he said.

“Mizoram is a state with both nature and culture. It has the potential to become a global tourist hub. When infrastructure improves, it helps trade, talent and tourism. Infrastructure brings investment, industries, and income and also creates opportunities. During one of my earlier visits to Mizoram, I had promised to work for transformation by transportation; since then, a revolution has happened across sectors due to the work of the BJP-led government… Till 2013-14, the total length of the National Highways in the Northeast was 11,000 km, we increased it to 16,000 km,” he added.

Congress president Kharge attacked the BJP and accused it of creating divisions in society.

“RSS-BJP are hell-bent on destroying your culture, values, religion, and the Mizo way of life. Modi Govt wants to take your Land and Forests and gift that to their crony friends,” Kharge said in a post on ‘X’ on Sunday.

“BJP created division between the people of Manipur and the state has been burning for six months. Thousands of tribal people from Manipur had to seek refuge in Mizoram. BJP wants to destroy the delicate social fabric of the North East,” he added.

He also accused the ruling MNF of corruption.

“Today, under the MNF Rule, the infrastructure of the state is in shambles. The youth want education and employment. Under MNF-BJP rule, corruption has become a way of life,” he said.

“It is the Congress party which brought peace and stability to Mizoram. Rajiv Gandhi signed the historic Mizo Accord in 1986, and secured statehood in 1987. Since then, Congress has had a very special relationship with the people of Mizoram. Successive Congress Governments have ensured peace, stability, tribal culture, identity and secularism in Mizoram.

“We brought the New Land Use Policy (NLUP) for agriculture, which has benefitted farmers and substantially increased rice production in the state,” Kharge added.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi campaigned in the state to boost the party’s prospects. Former party chief Sonia Gandhi also sent a video message.

ZPM’s chief ministerial candidate, Lalduhoma, expressed confidence of party’s prospects and slammed both Congress and MNF.

“Ever since Mizoram became a state, what we have seen is the rule of Congress and the MNF in succession. The change was only for the person sitting in the chair of the Chief Minister, but the system is the same. However, what we offer to the people is a new system that will be quite different from the previous governments, and all our policies are based on research, and everything should be based on research,” he said.

The Zoram People’s Movement (ZPM) made significant inroads in civic body election earlier this year.

The rise of the ZPM is a challenge to the established players with Congress and the MNF having ruled alternately since its formation.

The Mizoram Chief Minister has expressed confidence of returning to power in the state.

“We need to form the government to carry forward the development work that we have started. The influx of refugees from Myanmar, the situation in Manipur and the refugees crossing over into our territory from Bangladesh are issues that the elections would be contested on,” the chief minister said last month.

“A good number of refugees have come to Mizoram from Bangladesh. As far as Myanmar is concerned, the military junta is currently holding the reins of power there. We gave them (refugees from Myanmar) shelter as they are our brothers and sisters,” he added.

“The Congress may win one to two seats or none at all. The biggest challenger is the ZPM (Zoram People’s Movement). However, I doubt if they will win 10 seats or more. They might even win less than 10 seats. We have been in existence for 60 years,” he said.

Some other BJP leaders also campaigned in the state.

Minister of State for Home Affairs Pramanik told ANI that the way PM Modi is taking care of development in the country, the people of Mizoram also want a similar pace of progress.

“More and more people are going to vote for the BJP. We have tried to reach to the people in emote areas also. People from the tribal areas have also participated in our rallies and public meetings,” he said.

“BJP is going to perform much better than in the past. Only the BJP can develop the Mizos. Whether it is Mizos or Chakma, if they want proper development, they have to trust the BJP,” he added.

In the 40-member Mizoram assembly, the Mizo National Front bagged 26 seats with a vote share of 37.8 per cent in the 2018 polls. The Congress secured five seats, and the BJP won one seat. (ANI)

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