Mizo National Front set to take on fractured Congress
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Mizo National Front set to take on fractured Congress

As the battle lines are drawn for Nov 20 elections to 40-member state legislature, the ruling MNF has already launched an offensive against a fractured Congress for political supremacy.

india Updated: Oct 13, 2003 15:16 IST
Nadeem Ahmed
Nadeem Ahmed

Mizoram, now regarded as the most peaceful among the 'Seven Sisters', is set to once again go to polls with uncertain results.

As the battle lines are drawn for November 20 elections to 40-member state legislature, the ruling Mizo National Front (MNF) has already launched an offensive against the opposition Congress for political supremacy. However, at the same the MNF chief and CM Zoramthanga has already gone on record expressing possibility of a pre-poll alliance with Congress but minus former CM Lalthanhawla.

Although Zoramthanga has announced 'good governance, stability and peace' to be main poll issues, he cannot be safely predicted a winner. However, considering the serious internal contradictions marring Congress at present, political observers give him an edge this time.

A senior Congress legislator admitted that his party is today a divided house with a vast majority of the supporters being against former CM Lalthanhawla leading the party in these elections. The party is yet to officially chalk out any strategy for the polls.

Indications are that there could be a split in the Congress before the polls in Mizoram.

Lalthanhawla faces corruption charges and is being investigated by federal intelligence agencies for alleged misappropriation of government funds during his tenure as chief minister until 1998.

In the last state elections, the MNF-Mizoram People's Conference (MPC) alliance had won 33 seats in the 40-member assembly, while the Congress managed to win just six seats. One independent candidate also won the polls.

Besides a fractured Congress, what has also given the ruling MNF a distinct edge in the elections is the emergence of Zoramthanga as the new peacemaker in the entire insurgency-hit northeast.

Zoramthanga has been successfully mediating the peace talks with the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN), besides facilitating similar negotiations with five other separatist groups in the region after being formally entrusted to do so by the federal government.

Zoramthanga, 53, was a former separatist guerrilla leader and was the second-in-command of the Mizo National Front (MNF) that surrendered en-masse in 1986 after waging a 20-year bush war against the Indian government.

The MNF government has been able to bring about economic reforms in the state that borders Myanmar. Besides, he has also taken various political steps to bring down corruption.

Like in past elections, the powerful church has warned political parties against fielding candidates having religious bias and corrupt track record.

The Presbyterian Synod warned of "exemplary punishment" if the poll diktats were violated.

At least 95 percent of the 892,000 people in Mizoram are Christians.

Amongst the major poll guidelines that the church has issued are no-slander campaigns, not using children in the election process and an appeal for low-key electioneering without spending too much money.

First Published: Oct 13, 2003 15:16 IST