MY KOLKATA EDUGRAPH
ADVERTISEMENT
regular-article-logo Saturday, 25 May 2024

In Mizoram, MNF fights ‘unfulfilled promises’, chief minister Zoramthanga bets on ‘strong leader’ image

Three-term CM and MNF president is looking to win the constituency for a second time

Umanand Jaiswal Aizwal Published 05.11.23, 06:09 AM
MNF supporters at the event at Thuampui on Saturday.

MNF supporters at the event at Thuampui on Saturday. Umanand Jaiswal 

A trijunction in Aizawl on Saturday afternoon turned into an island of blue for over two hours, the participants cheering, waving and clapping in bursts like they do in cricket matches featuring Team India. Only this was not a cricket match.

The participants were members of the ruling Mizo National Front (MNF), dressed in blue tees and carrying the party’s blue flag, attending the party’s campaign-closing function, to be addressed by three-term chief minister and MNF president Zoramthanga at Thuampui, which falls under his Aizawl East I Assembly constituency.

ADVERTISEMENT

Zoramthanga is looking to win the constituency for a second time.

Officially, the campaigning ends on Sunday but it was advanced by a day by most parties as Sunday is considered sacred in Christian-majority Mizoram.

Mizoram chief minister Zoramthanga in Aizawl on Saturday.

Mizoram chief minister Zoramthanga in Aizawl on Saturday. Umanand Jaiswal 

Blue was the dominant colour at the street-side meeting, attended by a couple of hundred enthusiastic MNF members. They listened with rapt attention for about 40 minutes, cheering and applauding at frequent intervals, as Zoramthanga spoke about his government’s achievements and challenges and appealed for continuity.

Notwithstanding the enthusiasm and the confidence on display, ground reports suggest that the MNF faces one of its “toughest” electoral battles.

Political observers say the MNF is up against anti-incumbency, which usually sets in during a second term, and a “very spirited” challenge from the Zoram People’s Movement (ZPM).

One common refrain among voters The Telegraph spoke to was the MNF’s “unfulfilled promises” and the need to give a chance to a new party since they had “tried and tested” both the MNF and the Congress.

After the event, 59-year-old Zokhuma, who has been driving a taxi since retiring from the Assam Rifles in 2001, said the MNF had promised many things, such as an elevated road to decongest Aizawl, a sum of Rs 3 lakh for each beneficiary of its flagship Socio-economic Development Programme (SEDP) to start their own business/ profession, and improved roads.

“These commitments have not been kept. Our chief minister is a sweet-talker but people want results,” he said.

Twenty-one-year-old Emanuel Lalngaihawma from Aizawl West I, who works in a parlour, said the MNF’s performance needed to improve. He said he wanted the next government to deliver on its promises.

However, there were others who felt the MNF could get a fresh term -- going by Mizoram’s history of giving the ruling party a second term, and also because of the stable government provided by the experienced Zoramthanga, a militant leader turned politician.

They also say, like the chief minister, that most of the programmes could not be completed because of the Covid pandemic, which put a strain on the state’s finances.

However, the MNF is banking on the “goodwill” generated by the relief and support it has extended to refugees from Myanmar, Bangladesh and the internally displaced people from neighbouring Manipur.

A political observer, L. Ralte, said the stand the MNF government had taken on the refugees, ignoring the Centre’s directive to push them back or eschew biometrics collection, and later standing up for the Kuki-Zo people from Manipur, has projected Zoramthanga as a “strong leader to some extent”.

The MNF won 26 of the 40 seats in 2018 and the ZPM, not a recognised party then, 8 seats. The Congress had finished a distant third with five seats.

Polling is on November 7

Follow us on:
ADVERTISEMENT