Dec. 2: Mizoram chief minister Zoramthanga’s Mizo National Front (MNF) today proved the poll pundits wrong by securing an absolute majority in an election that was expected to produce a hung Assembly.
The ruling party won 21 of the 40 seats, leaving the Congress a distant second with 12. For PCC president and three-time chief minister Lalthanhawla, it was a double whammy with Zoramthanga finishing ahead of him in the much-hyped race for the Champhai seat. His consolation was winning the Serchhip seat, an insurance against defeat in Champhai.
Zoramthanga won at Kolasib, too, but only just. His unheralded rival from the Mizoram People’s Conference (MPC) garnered 3,611 votes, just 91 less than the chief minister.
The MPC and its ally, the Zoram Nationalist Party (ZNP), had to be satisfied with three and two seats. The Mara Democratic Front, a party whose support base is restricted to southern Mizoram, won one seat.
The only result that remains to be declared is of the election in Suangpuilawn constituency, where miscreants reportedly disrupted the counting.
Basking in the glow of victory, the chief minister said he would meet the governor and stake claim to form the new government within 24 hours. Zoramthanga tonight went into a huddle with all MNF legislators and members of the party’s executive committee to finalise the modalities for forming the new ministry.
On whether the MNF would accept legislators from the other parties, should they wish to switch allegiance, the insurgent leader-turned-politician said: “We are not averse to aligning with like-minded parties.”
A bitter Lalthanhawla attributed the MNF’s victory to “money power”, while ZNP chief Lalduhoma accused the ruling party of relying on a combination of money and intimidation of candidates and voters to win the election.
Lalduhoma, who, like Lalthanhawla, won only one of the two seats he had contested, identified Suangpuilawn and Champhai as two of the constituencies where the poll had not been free and fair. “The Zomi Reunification Organisation and its armed wing helped the MNF,” he said.
Incidentally, Lalduhoma has won an Assembly seat after six unsuccessful attempts.
The prominent MNF losers in this election include health minister F. Malsawma, planning department vice-chairman Sanghmingthanga H. Pautu, sports minister Rualchina, Speaker R. Lalawia and deputy Speaker Lalthankunga.
The BJP, which had hoped to open its account in Mizoram after recent successes elsewhere in the Northeast, did not come close to winning even in its most-favoured constituency, Chawngte. The MNF won that seat, while the BJP finished a dismal third. The Janata Dal (United) and the CPI lost their security deposits in all the constituencies where they had fielded candidates.
The distinction of winning by the biggest margin went to the MNF nominee for the Lawngtlai seat, H. Vanlalthaliana. He defeated his nearest rival, C. Thanghluna of the Congress, by a margin of 1,095 votes. Though the Congress is disappointed at not having run the MNF close, its tally of 12 is double the number it won in 1998.