Mizoram assembly polls: MNF returns to power as Congress loses last bastion in northeast
The Mizo National Front (MNF) returned to power in Mizoram after a gap of 10 years on Tuesday, beating the Congress comprehensively in its last state it was ruling in the northeast.
In the state’s 40-member assembly, the MNF bagged 26, securing absolute majority on its own. Congress, which had been in power since 2008, came third with just 5 seats.
“I am really grateful to the voters for this win. This victory has been possible by the grace of god and the will of the people. I had predicted we will win at least 25 seats. Fortunately, it came true,” former chief minister and MNF president Zoramthanga said after his party’s emphatic win.
The second position with 8 seats went to Zoram Peoples Movement, formed last year after seven small parties came together. Meanwhile, the Bharatiya Janata Party, which has been trying to get a foothold in the state it called its “final frontier” in the northeast, managed to open its account in the Christian-majority state by winning the Tuichawng seat. While the party’s Buddha Dhan Chakma defeated his MNF rival, its state president JV Hluna and former speaker Hiphei, who quit the Congress to join the BJP, did not win.
Chief minister Lal Thanhawla who had contested from two seats—Serchhip and Champhai South—lost both. In Serchhip he was defeated by ZPM leader Lalduhoma while he lost Champhai South to MNF’s Lalnuntluanga.
Despite predictions and exit polls indicating possibility of a hung assembly—for the first time in Mizoram’s history—voters took a decisive call for change.
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In 2008, Congress had defeated the MNF, which has been in power since 1998, by winning 32 seats. Five years later, Congress won 34 seats while the MNF managed to bag just 5.
The mood in the MNF head office was upbeat since early morning as party workers sitting around a television screen clapped enthusiastically and some broke into dance with announcement of trends in each seat.
“We have worked hard for this day and are very happy at the outcome. We are confident of forming the government on our own. The voters were fed up of Congress misrule in the past 10 years,” party worker C Lalrinpuii said.
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On the other hand, the mood at the Congress state office just a few metres away was sombre and quiet as party workers sat huddled in groups, trying to make sense of the negative trends
“Our poor show was the outcome of anti-incumbency. Improper distribution of tickets and 5 of our MLAs leaving the party ahead of the polls also played a part,” senior Congress leader and state’s sole Lok Sabha member CL Ruala said.
Mizoram was the only state in the region where Congress was in power. The BJP, which was not a major force in the region till three years ago, is now a major player in all the other states, save Sikkim. It is leading governments in Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur and Tripura and is part of coalition governments in Nagaland and Meghalaya.