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Consolation for Cong in Mizoram
CM’s belief holds true

Guwahati, Dec. 9: After being battered in four states, the Congress today won convincingly in Mizoram.

Chief minister Lal Thanhawla’s conviction about his and his party’s poll prospects was vindicated as he won both the seats he had contested from and his party won a two-thirds majority in the 40-member Assembly.

“I will win both the seats I have contested. My party will win between 26 and 32 seats, if not more. People in Mizoram know whom to vote for. The Opposition alliance was not a factor,” the four-time chief minister had told this correspondent last night from Aizawl, the state capital.

As the trend and results started trickling in, it was clear that his optimism and confidence were not misplaced. The ruling Congress won 33 seats, crossing its 2008 tally by one, while the Mizo National Front (MNF) had managed five and the Mizoram People’s Conference (MPC) just one.

The Congress was engaged in a triangular fight with the three-party Mizoram Democratic Alliance (MNF, MPC and Maraland Democratic Front) and the Zoram Nationalist Party (ZNP).

The result should give the battered Congress something to smile about an electoral battle that went horribly wrong in other states. It continues to retain its stranglehold in the Northeast, ruling five of the seven states.

What should also make the Mizoram win special is the blank the BJP, its tormentor in the other four states, drew. The BJP had contested 17 seats.

The vote for continuity also reflected the growing trend of northeastern states to return the ruling party to power. Early this year, the ruling parties were returned to power in Tripura (Left), Nagaland (NPF of the ruling DAN) and Meghalaya (Congress). The last Assembly elections in Arunachal Pradesh, Assam and Manipur also saw the Congress retain power.

The extent of relief in the Congress could be gauged from the reaction of AICC secretary in charge of Mizoram, Bhupen Kumar Borah. “It was a vote for good governance. Mizoram should be a role model for other states,” he told The Telegraph.

Tilting the scales in favour of the Congress was the very popular New Land Use Policy (NULP), a central government scheme, under which each family is provided Rs 1 lakh to stop jhum or shifting cultivation by clearing forests. “It helped in the rural areas,” a Congress leader said.

What also helped the Congress was the selection of candidates and post-selection unity. It retained all but one of its 32 sitting MLAs once the regional parties joined hands under the banner of MDA. Initially, there were plans to drop six sitting MLAs.

One of the dropped MLAs, Nirupam Chakma, who is also a PCC general secretary, told this correspondent from Congress Bhawan, Aizawl, “We won because our chief minister provided a corruption-free government and we implemented programmes for the poor such as the NULP.” He went on to add that Lal Thanhawla would continue as the chief minister as he was the undisputed leader.

The Opposition’s strategy of attacking Lal Thanhawla for sporting a tilak during a Durga Puja celebrations also did not find many takers in “secular and peaceful” Mizoram, Congress sources said.

L. Ralte, who teaches physics in an Aizawl school, said, “The verdict for continuity is the best for the state. It will help execute projects lined up by the government which would help improve the education and health sectors”.

Lal Thanhawla won from both Serchhip and Hrangturzo constituencies, a feat he had managed in 2008, too, when the Congress swept the polls winning 32 seats to unseat the MNF. During campaigning, Lal Thanhawla had said he would retain the seat that gives him the most votes. He got 5,719 votes in Serchhip and 5,173 in Hrangturzo. In Serchhip he defeated MNF candidate C. Lalramzauva by a narrow margin of 734 votes.

ZNP president Lalduhawma had no such luck, as he lost from Aizawl West-I and Kolasib.

For the Opposition MNF, MPC and ZNP, it was another forgettable outing at the hustings. The results show they had nothing much to offer.

MNF president Zoramthanga lost to Congress’s T. Sangkunga from Tuipui East, his second loss on the trot, putting a cloud over his future leadership of the party. All MNF heavyweights lost.

MDF’s P.P. Thawla lost to Congress’s Hiphei from Palak seat.

Leader of the Opposition, MNF’s Lal Thangliana lost to Congress’s C. Ralte at Lunglei West.

Cabinet ministers S. Hiato (tourism) and H. Liansailova (finance) are the big losers from the Congress.

Ministers who kept their seats are R. Lalzirliana (home), J.H. Rothuama (cooperation), P.C. Zoram Sangliana (transport), H. Rohluna (forests), Lalrinliana Sailo (health), Lalsawta (education), Zodintluanga (sports) and P.C. Lalthanliana (social welfare).

There was no word on when the Congress Legislature Party would meet but chief electoral officer Ashwani Kumar said the government would have to assume charge before December 15.

Repolling has been ordered on December 11 for polling station number 30 under Lawngtlai East constituency because of EVM malfunctioning.