Indira’s guard blamed for Cong’s fall in Mizoram

Indira’s guard blamed for Cong’s fall in Mizoram


The regional Mizo National Front (MNF) on Tuesday not just stormed back to power in Mizoram after 10 years, but also made BJP’s target of ‘Congress-mukt Northeast’ a reality.

So what caused Congress' debacle in Mizoram, although the party bounced back in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh?

Congress leaders claimed Zoram People’s Movement (ZPM), a forum of seven smaller parties, which contested in 35 of the 40 seats, divided Congress votes and helped MNF consolidate against the ruling party.

Lalduhoma, the former security in-charge of former prime minister Indira Gandhi, who was ZPM’s chief ministerial candidate, defeated five-time chief minister and his former Congress colleague Lal Thanhawla in Serchhip constituency.

Indira had inducted Lalduhoma into the Congress in 1984 but he left the party following his conflicts with Thanhawla just before the signing of the Mizo Accord with the MNF in 1986.

Lal Thanhawla, who was eying a hat-trick as chief minister, also lost to T J Lalnungtluanga of MNF in Champhai South, from where he was elected to the Assembly six times earlier.

“Those who voted us in 2008 and 2013 switched to ZPM this time. We failed to take the ZPM factor seriously and also fell short of highlighting our achievements properly before the elections,” Mizoram Congress chief spokesperson Lalliangchunga told DH from Aizawl.

The Congress went down to five this time from 34 in 2013, while the MNF got 26, the ZPM eight and BJP opened its account for the first time in the Mizoram Assembly.

Some Congress insiders said that the anti-incumbency and questions over the state leadership — the same factors that helped it win against the BJP in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, caused its debacle in Mizoram.

“Except the chief minister, there was no face to strongly project after five top leaders left the party. They left mainly due to a difference with the chief minister,” a party leader said.

"Anger" of the influential churches over Lal Thanhawla-led government’s withdrawal of the 18-year-old total prohibition on liquor in 2014 could have also acted against the Congress, said the source.

Three of the five top leaders, including former home minister R Lalzirliana, who resigned before elections and joined MNF and BJP won their seats.

Buddha Dhan Chakma, former fishery minister in the Lal Thanhawla-government, won the first seat for the saffron party in the Christian-majority Mizoram.

“It is historic for us as we have won a seat for the first time in Mizoram and happy to see that the Northeast is now Congress-mukt,” BJP leader Nalin S. Kohli said in New Delhi.