The Congress has not only set an electoral record in Mizoram by bagging 31 of the 39 seats for which results have been declared on Monday, it has also reinforced the party’s hold in the northeast, with four states in the region now under its belt.
Since its statehood in 1986, Mizoram has always denied absolute majority to any single party. Even the legendary Laldenga’s Mizo National Front, which rode the Peace Accord wave, won 24 seats in 1987.
“This result shows that there’s a limit to fooling the people with tall talk and corrupt ways,” said Mizoram Pradesh Congress Committee chief Lalthanhawla, who won from both South Tuipui and Serchhip constituencies. Lalthanhawla, who had been chief minister thrice before, is set to take the reins of Mizoram again.
He admitted that the Mizoram electorate wanted to be a part of the Indian dream. “We hope to provide that change,” he said, adding his party’s sweeping victory was a mandate against the baseless allegations of corruption against him. These charges had reportedly kept the Congress out of power for the last 10 years.
Mizoram chief minister Zoramthanga, however, said the MNF had tried to provide the best governance in the geographically disadvantaged state. “We shall try to find out where we went wrong,” he said before tendering his resignation to Governor M.M. Lakhera.
It was a double whammy for Zoramthanga, as he lost both the Champhai North and Champhai South seats. His party managed to bag only three seats, with ally Mara Democratic Front bagging another.
Political analyst Lalzahawma attributed the MNF’s rout to a combination of factors. First was the hype about the bamboo flowering-induced rat menace, which, the Congress alleged, the MNF used to siphon off Rs 125 crore of Central assistance.
Second, about 65,000 first-time voters in this election were born after the Peace Accord of 1986, which ended insurgency in the state. They attach little sentimental value to the days of separatist struggle. Third, about 3,500 people belonging to the Mizoram Underground Returnees’ Association of rebels who came over-ground before the Accord, sided with the Congress to dent the MNF’s cadre-based vote bank.
Meanwhile, ‘Mandate 2008’ is seen as the end of the political road for former CM Brigadier T. Sailo despite his victory from the Aizawl West II constituency. His age and failing health became a key factor in the United Democratic Alliance’s poor show, as was the declining fortunes of his ally Lalduhawma, who lost the Tuivawl seat. The UDA managed only four seats, one less than in 2003.
By bagging absolute majority, the Congress did not merely set an electoral record in Mizoram. It also reinforced the party’s hold in the Northeast, a region it is possessive about.
Since statehood in 1987, no party has ever enjoyed absolute majority in the 40-member Mizoram House. Not even the legendary Laldenga’s Mizo National Front, which, fresh from a Peace Accord and riding a “new wave”, won 24 seats that year. The Congress has this election won 32 of the 39 seats declared on Monday, five more than the absolute majority mark.