Aizawl: The northeastern Indian state of Mizoram has switched its government, joining three others which voted for change in the latest state elections.
Zoram People’s Movement, a regional party, won 27 seats in the 40-member legislature, defeating the ruling Mizo National Front, according to the Election Commission of India. Both the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Indian National Congress trailed, winning just a handful of seats.
The current chief minister, Zoramthanga, conceded his seat to the Zoram People’s Movement candidate.
Results for four other electorally-significant states - Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Telangana - were announced on Sunday. Counting in Mizoram was deferred by a day.
The BJP retained power in Madhya Pradesh and wrested control of the state legislatures from Congress in Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh. Congress flipped the southern state of Telangana, where a regional party held power for two consecutive terms.
Indira Gandhi’s security officer, likely to be Mizoram’s new CM
Displaying a stunning triumph, IPS officer-turned-politician Lalduhoma, whose party Zoram People’s Movement (ZPM) wrested power by securing 27 seats in the 40-member Assembly, will be the sixth politician to be CM in Mizoram.
ZPM’s President and party’s Chief Ministerial candidate Lalduhoma in a multi-cornered contest retained his Serchhip seat defeating his nearest MNF rival J. Malsawmzuala Vanchhawng by a margin of 2,983 votes while most of the prominent nominees of the party were leading in their respective seats.
Former security officer of the Late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, the IPS officer-turned-politician Lalduhoma, who secured 8,314 votes, was elected to the state Assembly for the second consecutive time.
Lalduhoma told the media that on Tuesday or Wednesday he would meet the state Governor Hari Babu Kambhampati to stake his claim to form the government, and the swearing-in-ceremony would be held this month.
“All corruption cases (during the MNF regime) would be inquired by the CBI and other agencies. We would deliver a new system of governance in Mizoram by maintaining transparency in all sectors,” the ZPM supremo said on Monday.
Mizoram was previously part of Assam until 1972, when it was carved out as a Union Territory.
It became the 23rd state of India on February 20, 1987 after years of insurgency.
Since 1987, when Mizoram gained its statehood and held its first Assembly elections, the mountainous state has only seen bipolar politics between the Congress and the Mizo National Front (MNF), first led by Laldenga, and then by outgoing Chief Minister Zoramthanga.
Congress stalwart Lal Thanhawla and MNF supremo Zoramthanga holding the chief ministerial post mostly governed the country’s second least populated state after Sikkim.
Just before and after the 2018 Assembly elections in Mizoram, ZPM led by Lalduhoma became a major challenger to both the MNF and the Congress.
ZPM, whose candidates had to contest the 2018 Assembly polls as Independents as the party was not registered by the Election Commission of India (ECI), won eight seats but lost two seats in the subsequent bypolls with party chief Lalduhoma retaining the Serchhip seat in the by-election.
The 73-year-old police officer-turned-politician has also emerged as a strong contender for the Chief Ministerial post before the November 7 Assembly elections to the 40-member Assembly.
Before the Assembly polls, Lalduhoma had told IANS: “My party (ZPM) would secure a landslide victory in the November 7 Assembly polls, and we would form the next government in Mizoram.
“This is a thousand per cent assured. There is no question of aligning with any other party as we would win much more than the majority number of seats.”
He had said the ZPM had already convinced the people of Mizoram that it would give a new system of governance, unlike the Congress and the MNF.
“For the past many years, due to our constant and sincere efforts, we obtained huge public support across Mizoram. As both the MNF and the Congress failed to deliver the goods for the all-round development and welfare of the Mizo people, we (ZPM) happened to be the main political force in the state,” Lalduhoma had said.
The former IPS officer served as the security in-charge to Late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and held a vital post in the organising committee of the 1982 Asian Games.
Due to his closeness with the Gandhi family, Lalduhoma joined the Congress after he left the service in 1984.
“I was entrusted by Indira Gandhi to resolve the Mizo National Front-spearhead insurgency led by Laldenga. I met Laldenga in London where he was in self-exile. I persuaded him to come aboard ending the insurgency,” said Lalduhoma, who played a significant role in bringing the MNF outfit to the mainstream and establishing peace in Mizoram.
Due to Lalduhoma’s efforts and at the initiative of former Prime Minister Late Rajiv Gandhi, the Mizo Peace Accord was signed in June 1986, ending two decades of strife and insurgency in Mizoram.
Later, Lalduhoma was elected to the Lower House of the Parliament from Mizoram’s lone Lok Sabha seat as a Congress nominee, but due to some internal troubles after the assassination of Indira Gandhi in 1984, he quit the party and was disqualified under the anti-defection law in 1988.
In 1997, Lalduhoma founded the Zoram Nationalist Party (ZNM), and in 2003 he was elected to the Mizoram Assembly from Ratu.
Before the last Assembly elections in 2018, ZNM, along with six local parties, formed the ZPM, a coalition group which projected him as the chief ministerial candidate.
The veteran Mizo leader in the 2018 polls won from two seats - Aizawl West I and Serchhip - the second being the constituency of then Chief Minister and Congress stalwart Lal Thanhawla.
However, he kept the Serchhip seat.
During the past few years, the ZPM has performed better in several local elections and has emerged as a challenging third front in a traditionally dual-party electoral battle in Mizoram.
The ZPM is banking on the anti-incumbency factor of the MNF, with its focus against corruption and the economic empowerment of the youth and farmers.
The Congress and the MNF have been in power for around four decades in Mizoram but they have not done much for the Mizo people and the state, the ZPM supremo said.