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Mizoram's political transition: From bipolar to multi-cornered Assembly Elections

By Sujit Chakraborty

As the crucial Assembly polls will take place in Mizoram on Tuesday, the mountainous border state will witness a multi-cornered contest between the ruling Mizo National Front (MNF), opposition Zoram People’s Movement (ZPM) and two national parties -- Congress and BJP -- in all the 40 seats.

Since Mizoram became a full-fledged state in 1986, most elections, including Assembly and Parliamentary, witnessed direct contests between the Congress and MNF -- a militant outfit turned political party.

But since the 2018 elections, it was triangular and this time the electoral battle would be multi-cornered.

During the past 37 years, the Congress and the MNF alternatively governed India's second least-populated state after Sikkim.

With the emergence of the ZPM led by former IPS officer Lalduhoma, who served as a security officer of late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi for three years since 1982, the Mizoram elections turned challenging for both the Congress and the MNF.

The ZPM was founded before the 2018 Assembly elections during which it secured eight seats in the 40-member house.

Mizoram polls are a political test for the non-Congress Northeast Democratic Alliance (NEDA) led by Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma as both the BJP and ruling MNF will bitterly fighting against each other in Tuesday's Assembly polls.

The relations between the BJP and the MNF sharply deteriorated after the saffron party-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) mooted the Uniform Civil Code as well as the ethinic violence in Manipur which erupted in May.

The MNF accused both the Central and the state governments for their “failure to protect the Kuki-Zo-Chin tribals in Manipur”.

Around 13,000 Kuki-Zo-Chin tribals, including women and children sheltered in Mizoram after being displaced from Manipur, where the ethnic riots broke out on May 3.

Hundreds of non-tribal Meitei community people, who had been living in Mizoram for years, also left the syaye and returned to Manipur.

The ethnic riot between the non-tribal Meitei and tribal Kuki communities in Manipur have become a key issue in the Mizoram polls.

Congress leaders and the political pundits opined that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah skipped the election campaign in Mizoram to “avoid embarrassment over the Manipur issue”.

Mizoram's 8, 57,063 voters, including 4,39,026 female electors,will decide the electoral fate of 174 candidates, including 16 women.

The MNF, ZPM and Congress have fielded candidates in all the 40 seats, while the Aam Aadmi Party is contesting four seats and 27 independent candidates are also in the fray.

The BJP has fielded candidates in 23 seats with a special focus on linguistic minority inhabited areas, especially where the Reang and Chakma tribal community people are in reasonable numbers in the voters’ list.

Political observers say that Mizos are Christians and averse to the agendas of BJP, which like other northeastern states is trying to enter through the local parties.

*Except for the heading, this story has not been edited by The enewstime.in and has been published from an Agency feed.

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