NEW DELHI, Dec 4: Mizoram changed hands with the ruling Mizo National Front (MNF), an ally of the BJP, ousted from power by the Zoram People’s Movement (ZPM), a six-party opposition alliance led by a former IPS officer, winning 27 seats in the 40-member Mizoram state Assembly.
The MNF which in the 2018 elections had won 26 seats, was reduced to a mere 10-seat party, half of the seats won by wafer-thin margins, while the BJP which had only one seat in the outgoing House doubled its tally to two seats and the Congress, which held five seats, bagged a single seat this time, the Election Commission of India announced on Monday.
Though the polling in Mizoram was held on November 7, the first among the five states went to polls last month, the counting of votes in the state was postponed by a day in deference to the wishes of the local organisations. The counting of votes in other states were held on Sunday in which the BJP swept the polls in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh, while the Congress ousted the Bharat Rashtra Samithi to capture power in Telangana.
Not only his party, in a shock poll result, Incumbent Chief Minister Zoramthanga lost the election from Aizawl East-1 constituency. His deputy Tawnluia too suffered defeat in Tuichang. Immediately afterwards, Zoramthanga submitted his resignation to Governor Dr Hari Babu Kambhampati in Aizawl in the afternoon.
Led by Mr Lalduhoma, 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. 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. He would meet Governor Hari Babu Kambhampati on Tuesday and stake claim to form the government.
The ZPM was formed ahead of the 2018 elections 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.
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.
Speaking to the media, Zoramthanga said, “Because of the anti-incumbency effect, people are not satisfied with my performance, so I lost… I accept the verdict of the people and I hope that the next government will perform well… It is the anti-incumbency and Covid onslaught.”
The MNF, ZPM and the Congress had contested 40 seats each, and the BJP fielded candidates in 13 seats. The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), which contested the assembly polls in Mizoram for the first time, contested four seats. There were 17 independent candidates too.
Some exit polls had predicted a clean sweep by the ZPM, but the majority indicated a hung assembly, with no party getting a clear majority. In the last assembly election in 2018, the MNF won 26 seats and the ZPM eight seats, relegating the Congress that bagged five seats to the third place. The BJP won one seat.
Zoramthanga’s party has projected him as the “guardian of the Chin-Kuki-Zo tribes”, though his rivals and other parties like the BJP has accused him of corruption, not checking rising unemployment and drug trafficking, and poor infrastructure.
Though the MNF is an ally of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), Zoramthanga – citing kinship and familial ties with the Chin-Kuki tribes in Myanmar – has openly given shelter to at least 40,000 refugees who fled from the junta rule in the neighbouring nation.