TODAY -

Electioneering picks up in Mizoram : AAP leaders from Nagaland, Punjab woo electorate

Nirendra Dev *

 AAP leaders Asu Keyho (Nagaland and Punjab Minister Bains
AAP leaders Asu Keyho (Nagaland and Punjab Minister Bains



Mizoram has a system of keeping a party in power for 10 years -- that is two consecutive terms. Thus, Zoramthanga-led MNF has an edge and chance to continue in power. The Congress is not in the reckoning this time especially after the exit of Lal Thanhawla, the five-term Chief Minister and a veteran leader who has retired.

However, the big question this time is - Can nascent ZPM or even a small player like the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) spring surprise?

According to Nagaland unit chief of AAP, Asu Keyho, the party's campaign is going full steam and the Kejriwal-led outfit will surprise "both rivals and well wishers alike in Mizoram".

"Give us an opportunity for a possible and visible change is our appeal," he has been telling the Mizo voters. The fact that the former Nagaland legislator is from an assembly segment, Western Angami in Nagaland, which produced Naga legendary rebel leader A Z Phizo and also that Asu is a Christian is helping him "connect well with traditional and committed Christian voters of Mizoram".

Harjot Singh Bains, Punjab Education Minister, also landed in Mizoram trying to convince the voters to show confidence in AAP. The party is contesting only four seats, but party strategists feel the "strike rate for AAP in 2023 Mizoram polls will be the best".

"We are here for a purpose....and the purpose is Education and Health sectors...For the last 75 years, these two sectors were never taken as major agendas of any political party," Bains told a press conference at Aizawl on Friday, Nov 3.

He said the AAP will give top priority to the improvement of governance in Mizoram with special focus on education and health care.

For its part, the Congress was already relegated to the third position in 2018 having won only five seats in the 40-member assembly. MNF under incumbent CM Zoramthanga is confident of returning to power.

In 2018 polls, the Congress was voted out and the ZPM had won eight while MNF had managed to come to power winning 26 seats. The leadership in Mizoram is 'new' in Congress as veteran Lal Thanhawla, the five term Chief Minister, has retired. For the last twenty years the MNF and the Congress have shared power for 10 years each.

And here comes the relevance of ZPM and whether it can really offer itself as a genuine alternative to the MNF and the Congress.

Mizoram Congress president Lalsawta, 77, says, "The Manipur crisis proves the danger the BJP's politics poses to the Mizo people and other tribals and Christians in the northeast".

However, local citizens say the Congress has been unable to attack Zoramthanga and MNF and this is where ZPM gets a huge advantage.

Of course, like MNF and the ZPM, the Congress also has put up candidates in all 40 seats. The BJP, which had won only one seat in minority-Chakma dominated areas in 2018, is contesting 23 seats this time. Party stalwarts J P Nadda, Rajnath Singh and Nitin Gadkari have already campaigned.

"Violence is no solution to any problem," said Defence Minister Rajnath Singh in the context of issues between Meiteis and Kukis in neighbouring Manipur. "What we need is heart-to-heart conversation. I appeal to both the communities to sit together and end the trust deficit," Rajnath Singh said.

The MNF and The BJP are allies at the national level. But in Mizoram, both sweat it out against each other. In 2018 also they fought against each other.


( Views expressed are personal)


* Nirendra Dev wrote this article for e-pao.net
The writer is a New Delhi-based journalist.
He is also author of the books ‘The Talking Guns: North East India’, and
‘Modi to Moditva: An Uncensored Truth’ based at New Delhi and
can be contacted at nirendev1(AT)gmail(DOT)com
This article was webcasted on November 07 2023.



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