MNF storms to power, Congress dismantled

MNF chief and former two-time chief minister (1998-2008), Zoramthanga (Left) and Mizoram chief minister Lal Thanhawla (Right).

The Mizo National Front (MNF) stormed back to power in Mizoram on Tuesday, bagging 26 of the 40 seats. With this, the MNF scripted a victory very similar to the one it bagged 20 years ago when the party wrested 21 of the 40 seats.

The ruling Congress, which wrested power from MNF in 2008 and was aiming a third consecutive victory, was reduced to five, while Zoram People’s Movement (ZPM), a forum of seven small parties, won eight seats.

The BJP, which contested in 39 seats, has for the first time opened its account in the Assembly in the Christian-majority state after Buddha Dhan Chakma won in Tuichawng constituency in South Mizoram. Chakma was a minister in the previous Congress government and defected before the elections.

Chakma, from the Buddhist Chakma community, had complained that the minority community was “discriminated” under the Congress rule.

More shock was in store for 74-year-old Chief Minister Lal Thanhawla, who lost both in Serchhip and Champai South constituencies.

His former party colleague and ZPM’s chief ministerial candidate, Lalduhoma, defeated him in Serchip by 283 votes. In Champai South, Thanhwala lost to the MNF candidate.

“I don’t know what went wrong. Maybe we underestimated the ZPM. Otherwise, Mizoram is among the top four states with the highest state GDP growth rate during the Congress’s tenure. We also constructed major infrastructure in the state,” a shocked Lal Thanhawla, the five-time chief minister, told reporters outside Raj Bhavan in Aizwal, after submitting his resignation.

In 2013, the Congress had won 34 seats and MNF had just five.

Congress leaders said ZPM played the spoilsport by dividing Congress votes. Several people, however, blamed the desertion of at least five top leaders, including Home Minister R Lalzirliana, ahead of elections and the anger of churches over the Congress’ decision in 2014 to withdraw the 18-year total prohibition of liquor, for the defeat.

The MNF chief and former two-time chief minister (1998-2008) Zoramthanga said his prediction of winning 25 to 30 seats turned out to be a reality.

“I am thankful to God and the people and hope to rejuvenate the economy. My first priority will be a total ban of liquor, as we promised. All roads in Mizoram are in ICU due to Congress’s neglect and the economy is in disarray,” he said. When asked whether the BJP will be part of the government, Zoramthanga said, “We have to  discuss  this and take a decision.”

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