The Congress fights anti-incumbency in Mizoram and all eyes are on the opposition, the Mizo National Front (MNF). Former Chief Minister and MNF president Zoramthanga (74) talks to The Indian Express about key issues in the upcoming Assembly polls and the party’s prospects.
What are your prospects of winning the elections?
We hope to have a comfortable majority. There has been a complete failure of the Congress government in development of the state. Going against the wishes of the NGOs and the Church, the Congress ended 18 years of prohibition, leading to alcohol-related illness and deaths in society. The party is crumbling down in Mizoram, their vice-president, who was the Home Minister, has joined us; the Assembly Speaker who was in Congress, the party’s secretaries and general secretaries are all leaving them.
What are the basic issues in Mizoram that the MNF is focusing on?
We are promising development. We will implement the Socio-Economic Development Programmes (SEDP). We will bring total prohibition in the state. [The MNF manifesto explains that through the SEDP, the party will aim to achieve ‘self-sufficiency’ in food, provide assistance to farmer and workers and establish new marketing facilities to sell farm products. “Such facilities shall include minimum support price system, subsidies, insurance and rebate, etc,” the manifesto says.]
The MNF is a founding member of the BJP-led North East Democratic Alliance. The Congress has alleged secret talks of post-poll alliance in the state between you and the BJP, which you have denied.
There are no secret talks of alliance between the MNF and the BJP. But the Congress itself has been in alliance with the BJP in the Chakma Autonomous District Council. I wonder if the BJP can even win one or two seats in the upcoming polls. Mizoram is Christian-majority state. The BJP has no inlet. It is not possible that the BJP wins here even if [PM Narendra] Modi comes to campaign. People might attend his rally just like they will go to watch any ‘tamasha’ but it will not have any electoral effect.
But you have a picture with the PM in your office.
Modi used to be my friend. He is a good Prime Minister for India. But in Mizoram, the BJP has no place. They are like an imposter. There is no inlet for the BJP in Christian-majority Mizoram. Christians are against the Hindutva politics of the BJP. As far as Mizoram elections are concerned, the MNF has no relation with the BJP. Our ideologies are poles apart. Anyone who comes to Christian-majority Mizoram with a Hindutva ideology will be socially ostracised here.