Battle lines getting drawn for Mizoram assembly election

Guwahati, Sep 9 (Agencies) | Publish Date: 9/9/2018 11:28:56 AM IST

On Saturday three minor parties in Mizoram, Peoples’ Representation for Identity and Status of Mizoram (PRISM), Mizoram Chhantu Pawl (MCP) or Save Mizoram Front and Operation Mizoram forged a pre-poll alliance with the aim of contesting the assembly polls due later this year, The Hindustan Times reported.

This is the second such alliance of regional parties in Mizoram, the only state in the north-east under Congress rule. A year ago, the Zoram Nationalist Party, Mizoram Peoples Conference and Zoram Exodus Movement came together to form the Zoram Peoples Movement (ZPM).

Schedule for polls in the northeastern state is yet to be announced and there is speculation that it might be held along with the general elections. But battle lines are already getting drawn.

Addressing the press at Aizawl on Saturday, Operation Mizoram convenor Vanlalhuma Kawlni said the alliance, if it comes to power, would strive to bring the entire state under the Sixth Schedule to protect the tribal nature of Mizoram, end border disputes with Assam and drive out illegal immigrants.

The ruling Congress too had a meeting of senior leaders chaired by Chief Minister and party’s Mizoram unit chief Lal Thanhawla where it discussed poll strategy for the 40 assembly seats.

Though he has been in power since December 2008, the 76-year-old Lal Thanhawla told party colleagues that Congress would be able to win the assembly polls easily as the party had brought “peace and tranquility”.

While the BJP has been able to expand its footprint in the region with governments in Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur and Tripura and is part of the ruling coalition in Meghalaya and Nagaland, in Mizoram the scene could be different.

“It will be a straight fight between the Congress and our party,” said Zoramthanga, chief of the Mizo National Front, the state’s biggest regional party that had been in power twice between 1998 and 2008.

MNF is part of the BJP-led North East Democratic Alliance, a conglomeration of anti-Congress parties in the region, but there is unlikely to be any pre-poll alliance between the two parties.

“We will contest all the 40 seats on our own and are confident of coming to power again. People are fed up of Congress’ misrule. The BJP would be lucky if it manages to win even one seat,” Zoramthanga said.

The BJP, too, is not planning to forge any alliance in Christian-dominated Mizoram at the moment and could seal post-poll tie-ups much like it did in Meghalaya in March. 

Earlier this year, the party had come third in Nagaland winning 12 of the total 60 seats in the Christian-majority state. 

In Meghalaya, another state with a majority Christian population, the BJP bagged two seats and joined the ruling coalition after announcement of results.

“The party hasn’t taken any decision yet on Mizoram polls. Our national executive meet is underway and maybe some strategy would be formed,” said Pawan Sharma, BJP in-charge for Mizoram, over phone from Delhi.

The two alliances of smaller parties don’t appear to be in the fight at the moment but in the event of a hung assembly the few seats bagged by them or independents could prove crucial in government formation.

“Till now we are planning to contest from 38 of the 40 seats on our own and there has been no talk of alliances. There’s no possibility of joining hands with the BJP as well,” said K Sapdanga, general secretary of the ZPM.


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