A “signal from God” has led a woman in Mizoram to contest for the state’s lone parliamentary seat for the first time in history.
63-year-old Lalthlamuani said, ”Nine days back, I heard a voice from God and I couldn’t turn my back on Him.”
This divine intervention has led Lalthlamuani to contest independently against five male candidates in the upcoming General Elections 2019. 83-year-old C L Ruala of the Congress is the sitting MP and has been serving for two successive terms.
The MP aspirant’s prerogative is to give a voice to Jewish community of Mizoram to which she belongs. Ever since 2008, Lalthlamuani has been leading the Chhinlung Israel People Convention (CIPC), an NGO, founded by her late husband Lalchhanhima Sailo, that works for the welfare of Mizo Jews, believed to be the descendants of one of the ten “lost tribes of Israel.”
The Jewish community, which has three synagogues in the state, believes when the Jews were split into two separate political entities after King Solomon’s death around 920 BC, some escaped to Mongolia, and finally settled in the northeastern parts of India, and are therefore, among the “lost tribes” of Israel. Since the 1970s, this group, which resides in pockets of Mizoram and Manipur are trying to make their way back to their lost “ancestral homeland” or Israel.
“We keep talking about our identity to the world. Now, the time has come to use the Parliament as a platform to announce our identity. We need someone to stand up for us and make sure our voice is heard,” she said.
With around 20,000 Jews in the state, CIPC works for the welfare of the Jewish community while some 20,000 others have migrated to Israel over the years.
While proclaiming her fight to be a ‘Holy War’ Lalthlamuani said that it was also a battle for women in Mizoram.
“This is a challenge to my fellow Mizo women too. We barely have any political representation,” she said.
Last year, in the state Assembly elections in November, 15 women fought for the 40 seats, but none won. Lalthlamuani was one of them — she contested as a Zoram Thar candidate from the Aizawl South-I constituency but managed to garner only 69 votes.
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In Mizoram’s history, only three women have made it to the state assembly.
With six candidates in the fray for the state’s lone Lok Sabha seat, the state ruling party, Mizo National Front fielded former director general of Doordarshan C Lalrosanga as its candidate while Lalnghinglova Hmar, a journalist famous for revolutionising football in the state, is being backed by the Congress and Zoram People’s Movement. The BJP has fielded experienced and former legislator Nirupam Chakma as its candidate while anti-corruption watchdog-turned-political party PRISM has fielded TBC Lalvenchhunga. Mizo mining engineer Lalhriatrenga Chhangte is set to fight as an independent candidate.
A class X pass out, Lalthlamuani does not consider her education qualifications as a disadvantage.
“If a woman like me, with no proper education or degree can dare to fight the Lok Sabha elections, why wouldn’t a much younger and educated woman fight in the future? I hope my nomination gives them courage,” she said.