December 10, 2013 8:02:39 pm
In a mild consolation for the Congress in this poll season,the party marched back to power in Mizoram for the second consecutive term by riding on the “success” of it’s flagship beneficiary scheme called New Land Use Policy,and using it’s poll planks of “good governance” and “zero corruption”.
In a major blow for the opposition,most of the senior leaders have lost,some to first-time MLA candidates contesting on a Congress ticket. Prominent among them are MNF president and two-time CM Zoramthanga who lost to first timer T Sangkunga,a retired bureaucrat. Another is Dr R Lalthangliana,the MNF Vice president and Leader of Opposition in the last assembly,who lost to first-timer Chalrosanga. This is the first loss for Dr R Lalthangliana in a general assembly since the formation of the state of Mizoram.
Confident of a second straight term,four-time Chief Minister Lal Thanhawla had given tickets to 31 of his MLAs (the party had 32 legislators in the previous 40-seat assembly) in the same seats they won from in the last elections,while he himself stood in two constituencies – his bastion Serchhip and neighboring Hrangturzo. He won from both.
While the verdict is clear,a re-poll will be held at one polling booth in Lawngtlai due to an electronic voting machine (EVM). As per the last count,the Congress candidate was up by 83 votes.
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Even in their campaign speeches,Congress candidates stressed,”We are going to win again,so please know how miserable it is to be in a constituency represented by an opposition MLA and vote for Congress candidates.”
The NLUP was also a common refrain,along with promises of continuing it if the party returns to power. Planned projects including hydro-power projects and infrastructure such as roads were also common themes.
Although debatable,the visit of senior national Congress leaders including Sonia Gandi,Rahul Gandhi and PM Manmohan Singh may have played a part in the victory,as most of the seats located in regions they visited – Kolasib and Lunglei but not Aizawl – have seen Congress sweeps.
In the end,the opposition’s poll planks of “Mizo nationalism”,accusing the CM of embracing Hinduism because he sported a tilak and took part in poojas appear to have fallen flat,as did accusations of the Congress’s mismanagement of state finances to fund it’s flagship program.
The Congress victory has left in disarray the opposition,among which three (Mizo National Front,Mizoram People’s Conference,Maraland Democratic Front) teamed up to contest all 40 assembly seats together while one,the Zoram Nationalist Party,contested the polls alone,riding on the popularity of it’s president Lalduhoma,a former IPS officer and one-time MP who was cast into Mizoram politics by Indira Gandhi,whose security ensemble he was a part of.
In spite of continuously leading opinion polls for most preferred CM,Lalduhoma lost in both the seats he contested from – Aizawl West 1,his home bastion,and Kolasib,where he was defeated by Congress Cabinet Minister and veteran P C Zoramsangliana. Lalduhoma came third in both seats,putting a question mark on the youngest party’s future as it’s candidates came third in most of the seats,just ahead of the BJP whose 17 candidates largely garnered only double-digit votes.
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