ZPM ends MNF, Congress hegemony in Mizoram; sweeps polls
Mizoram has been ruled by MNF and the Congress since the state’s formation in 1987 and this is the first time another party has been able to break that trend
The Zoram Peoples’ Movement (ZPM), which was formed six years ago through a merger of six smaller outfits, swept the assembly polls in Mizoram on Monday, ending decades of rule by the Mizo National Front (MNF) and the Congress in the northeastern state.
Even though a few exit polls had suggested the possibility of a hung assembly or a close fight between the two regional parties, the ZPM proved them wrong by wresting 27 of the total 40 seats. The MNF, which had secured 26 seats in 2018, was reduced to 10 seats. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) bagged 2 and the Congress managed to secure just 1.
The contrast in fortunes was visible in the results. While ZPM president and party’s chief ministerial candidate Lalduhoma won easily from Serchhip by a margin of nearly 3,000 votes, MNF president and chief minister Zoramthanga lost his home seat of Aizawl East-I by over 2,000 votes. Deputy chief minister Tawnluia also lost from the Tuichang seat to a ZPM candidate.
The chief minister met Governor Hari Babu Kambhampati at the Raj Bhawan on Monday afternoon and handed over his resignation.
“Mizoram’s financial condition is very bad, and we will be inheriting it from the previous government, but despite that we will honour our commitment made to farmers to procure ginger, turmeric, chilly and broom sticks from them at a predetermined price,” ZPM president Lalduhoma told HT over phone.
“Financial reforms will be on top of our agenda and an expert committee will be formed for that. Austerity measures will be put in place as well as disinvestment and manpower assessment. Our next focus will be against corruption, and we will give a general consent to CBI (to probe cases),” he added.
Mizoram has been ruled by the MNF and the Congress since the state’s formation in 1987 and this is the first time another party has been able to break that trend. While the MNF’s loss in 2018 ended the political career of Congress stalwart Lalthanhawla, Monday’s defeat could mean a similar fate to MNF’s Zoramthanga (79).
His successor, Lalduhoma (74), is expected to assume charge either on Thursday or Friday after a formal endorsement of his name by the elected ZPM MLAs. The party is slated to stake claim to form government on Wednesday after a meeting of senior office bearers and newly elected legislators at Aizawl.
“We had guessed around 2-3 weeks ago that this (MNF’s loss) could happen. It was clear that if voters don’t give us the mandate, they would switch to the ZPM. We accept the verdict and will regroup and assess the outcome,” said MNF vice president Vanlalzawma.
The Congress, which had lost power in 2018 was hoping this election would be a revival for the party not just in Mizoram but across northeast, a region where it was in power for many decades before getting edged out by the BJP in the past 7-8 years. But that didn’t happen.
“We accept the verdict, but this is not the end of the world. The Congress has withstood many downs in the past and we will bounce back,” said Mizoram Congress president Lalsawta.
The results also came as a dampener for the BJP, which was hoping for a hung verdict and joining the next government in the only state in the region where it doesn’t have its own government or is not part of the ruling coalition. The party had won its first seat in Mizoram in 2018. This time it increased it to 2 seats and emerged as the third largest party pushing the Congress to the fourth spot.
“We had expected at least three seats. It was a close contest for a few other seats, but they didn’t go in our favour. We would be happy to be part of the ZPM government to bring all-round development to Mizoram with help from the Centre,” BJP Mizoram unit chief Vanlalhmuaka said.
The last assembly didn’t have any women legislators. But that changed this time with two ZPM candidates and an MNF candidate winning their seats. Baryl Vanneihsangi, a popular TV presenter, defeated the MNF’s F Lalnumawia in Aizawl South III and Lalrinpuii from the same party won the Lunglei East seat. The MNF’s Prova Chakma won the West Tuipui seat.
“It was clear that the contest would be between the MNF and the ZPM. But the results showed the new regional party found much favour with voters especially young ones who wanted a change from the cycle of the MNF and the Congress governments. There was a wave in favour of the ZPM and the results show that it got translated to votes,” said J Doungel, professor of political science at Mizoram University.