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Rahul Karmakar, Hindustan Times
Guwahati, December 09, 2013
The Congress retained power in Mizoram for the second consecutive time, registering a comfortable victory over closest rival Mizoram Democratic Alliance (MDA) - a three-party alliance led by the Mizo National Front (MNF).
 
The Congress reached the majority mark - 21 in the 40-member House - by 3:30pm on Monday, a day after suffering setbacks in Delhi, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.
 
Monday's result was a thumbs down to the 'Mizo Nationalism' call by the MNF and allies - the Mizoram People's Conference and the Maraland Democratic Front. The self-rule concept steeped in Christian values was pushed as an alternative to "Indian nationalism that the Congress stands for".
 
The Congress' trump card this elections - in which more than 81% of the state electorate exercised their franchise on November 25 - was the New Land Use Policy (NLUP), a successful job scheme.  
 
"Besides delivering on NLUP, we provided good governance, kept corruption in check and promoted activities such as oil exploration towards making Mizoram self-sufficient. The verdict shows we are on the right track," four-time chief minister Lal Thanhawla said after the win.
 
Thanhawla, 71, was elected to the state assembly for a record ninth time. He contested from two seats in central Mizoram and won both.
 
The Mizo nationalism call, social scientists said, polarised marginal non-Mizo communities such as Brus - most of them voted from relief camps in adjoining Tripura - and Chakmas.
 
Besides, the MNF had tried to project the Congress - which has now been elected to power for the fifth time in the state - as an anti-Christian party by playing up Thanhawla's visits to temples and his 'tendency' to give in to Hindu rituals such as sporting a tilak. Christians constitute 87% of Mizoram's 1.9 million residents.
 
MNF president Zoramthanga was not available for comments. F Aithanga, chairman of the party's campaign directorate, said the poll outcome was a cause for serious introspection. "We need to analyse and work on people-friendly ideas," he added.
 
The BJP, which has little base in the state bordering Myanmar and Bangladesh, contested from 17 seats and lost all. Mizoram is the only state in India where women voters outnumbered men by 9,806.