Regional grouping ZPM may dent Congress, MNF, BJP poll prospects in Mizoram

Updated on Nov 23, 2018 12:31 PM IST

Six small regional parties have come together under the Zoram Peoples Movement (ZPM)’s banner to contest the November 28 polls in Mizoram. ZPM is hoping to provide an alternative to the Congress and MNF as well as nix the BJP’s attempt to extend its influence to the Christian-majority state.

Congress President Rahul Gandhi with his supporters during an election rally in Champai, Mizoram, Tuesday, Nov 20, 2018.(PTI)
Congress President Rahul Gandhi with his supporters during an election rally in Champai, Mizoram, Tuesday, Nov 20, 2018.(PTI)
Hindustan Times, Guwahati | By

The ruling Congress and Mizo National Front (MNF) have been Mizoram’s dominant political parties since the state’s formation in 1987. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is now hoping to emerge as a key player in the state even as none of its 17 candidates could win the last assembly elections in the state in 2013, when its vote share was just 0.37%.

Six small regional parties have come together under the Zoram Peoples Movement (ZPM)’s banner to contest the November 28 polls. ZPM is hoping to provide an alternative to the Congress and MNF as well as nix the BJP’s attempt to extend its influence to the Christian-majority state.

ZPM, which was formed last year, has fielded 39 candidates. It could play a key role in the formation of the next government if the Congress and MNF fail to cross the 20-seat mark in the 40-member assembly.

Read more: List of MLAs with Criminal Cases

“The Congress is facing infighting and anti-incumbency and MNF has failed to deliver in the past. Despite the hype, the BJP has no chance of winning even a single seat as the people do not like its fundamentalist ideas,” said ZPM general secretary K Sapdanga. “Voters are tired of tested parties and are interested in new faces in a new government. ZPM will win around 25-30 seats and fill in that void,” the journalist-turned-politician added.

Mizoram has never had a hung assembly in the last seven elections held since the state’s formation. Many believe the trend could change as both Congress and MNF may be unable to get a majority on their own. The Congress, which has been in power since 2008, is battling anti-incumbency. As many as five Congress lawmakers, including home minister R Lalzirliana, have defected to the MNF.

The MNF is facing troubles of its own with many in the party questioning its chief Zoramthanga’s style of functioning. The party’s inclusion in North East Democratic Alliance, the BJP-led anti-Congress group, could also go against it in Christian-majority Mizoram.

ZPM constituents, Mizoram People’s Conference (MPC) and Zoram Nationalist Party (ZNP), won 3 and 2 seats respectively in 2003. Five years later, the two parties secured two seats each. MNF bagged 5 and MPC one seat while the Congress won 34 out of 40 seats in 2013.

“At present ZPM is poised to emerge as the third largest party after Congress and MNF. The BJP and National Peoples Party, the ruling party in Meghalaya, would not make much difference as they do not have roots in the state,” said Mizoram University’s political science professor J Doungel.

“ZPM could even reach the double-figure mark and be a kingmaker if there is a hung assembly. There is disenchantment among a section of voters towards Congress and MNF. It would benefit the smaller party.”

The ZPM has promised to re-impose a liquor ban, which was lifted three years ago, and a National Register of Citizens like in Assam to detect illegal immigrants. It has also pledged to provide transparent, accountable, corruption-free rule and market security for farmers. ZPM wants to encourage Mizos to have more children to boost the state’s population, which stands at just 1.1 million.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Utpal is a Senior Assistant Editor based in Guwahati. He covers seven states of North-East India and heads the editorial team for the region. He was previously based in Kathmandu, Dehradun and Delhi with Hindustan Times.

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