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Congress pins hope on Mizoram

- Lal Thanhawla confident of win despite drubbing in four states

New Delhi, Dec. 8: The Congress got a drubbing in most states today, but Mizoram chief minister Lal Thanhawla seemed relaxed and ready to provide a face-saver.

Counting in Mizoram will take place tomorrow.

Not only was Lal Thanhawla confident of winning but he also has the liberty of not being hauled up for being a loser if defeated by the challenger, a coalition of regional parties.

“We are prepared for a victory,” Lal Thanhawla said over phone from Aizawl. “The party has been routed in all states but we are strong in the Northeast; I hope we will win,” he said.

The northeastern state with just 40 seats and less than 7 lakh voters is the Congress’s hope of not losing five-nil in these Assembly polls ahead of the 2014 general elections.

When the Congress takes a beating in other states, some states in the Northeast come as face-savers. Mizoram, Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya and Assam have Congress-led governments while Nagaland and Sikkim are UPA supporters. Only Tripura has a non-UPA Left Front government.

Earlier this year, the Congress lost Tripura and Nagaland to the CPM and the Naga People’s Front (NPF). In Nagaland, it lost allegedly because of inadequate support to the state unit. But a campaign led by Mukul Sangma in Meghalaya led Congress to a thumping victory leaving former Lok Sabha Speaker P.A. Sangma marginalised.

Similarly, Mizoram could provide solace tomorrow unless former chief minister Zoramthanga of Mizo National Front (MNF) beats the incumbents. One may reckon there may be pressure on the state Congress unit for this consolation prize. Lal Thanhawla, however, denied that there is any pressure.

“We are so insignificant that no one bothers us and we are in our own world so there was no pressure at all,” said Lal Thanhawla in half-jest, taking a jibe at the little attention that northeastern elections receive either from political parties or the media.

Over the month, little was spoken about Mizoram particularly in the electronic media.

This year, although the battle in the frontier state was fought keenly with a coalition of regional parties, the Congress seems confident. The regional front, Mizoram Democratic Alliance (MDA)’s constituents, the MNF contested in 31 seats, Mizoram People’s Conference (MPC) in eight and Maraland Democratic Front (MDF) contested in one constituency.

Lal Thanhawla’s rival is Zoramthanga who is also known to be confident of gaining an edge over the national party. However, if the Congress manages to make it, 24 Akbar Road will have much-needed consolation. In Delhi, Rajasthan and Madhya Prad-esh, the party has been decimated while in Chhattisgarh, too, it may not have made it.

These are times when states from the Northeast receive popular attention unfocused from militancy and provide a reprieve from a feeling of total annihilation to the Congress.