Small Parties To Play Big Role In Assembly Elections In Mizoram

A joint platform of six regional parties backed by several powerful civil society groups are expected to upset the poll arithmetic of bigger parties

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Five-time Chief Minister of Mizoram Lal Thanhawla, 76, is confident of winning this time as well.


Aizawl: 

There is sense of optimism among the rank and file of the Mizo National Front (MNF), the main opposition to the Congress in Mizoram. Their optimism is based on the history of the state where governments change every 10 years. However, it appears that smaller parties are going play a crucial in this assembly polls.

The MNF has been out of power for 10 years now. The party's performance was dismal in the last two assembly polls and this time the task doesn't look easy at all.

"I have heard them and I don't like their big talk. We want to see real action and we would also like to see a new face as the chief minister," says first-time voter Lucy in Aizawl.

Lal Thanhawla, 76, has been the chief minister since December 11, 2008. In the 2013 assembly elections, he became the chief minister for the fifth time, a record in Mizoram. Zoramthanga, MNF leader, was the Chief Minister of Mizoram from December 1998 to December 2008.

A joint platform of six regional parties backed by several powerful civil society groups may upset the MNF's poll arithmetic. The Zoram Peoples' Movement (ZPM) may also turn out to be the kingmaker, which is why national parties like Congress and BJP see them as possible post-poll partners.

However, support for a new alternative can already be seen on the streets of Aizawl.

"I need a new government, and if possible we all should vote for the ZPM," said Anish Chettri, a young voter in Aizawl.

The BJP with its high voltage campaign, including a rally by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, is trying its best to woo voters.

"In the last 20 years, the MNF and Congress had 10 years each to govern, but their performances have been poor. The leaders are the same and their ideas haven't evolved. We are getting support from civil society and we have silent voters, they are key for us," ZPM general secretary K Sapdanga told NDTV.

In the assembly polls in 2013, smaller regional parties fought separately, they won only one seat but got about 24 per cent of the vote share.

Their chief ministerial candidate - Laldhauhwma, a former IPS officer -- is immensely popular among young voters.

The alliance formed a year ago is contesting 39 of the total 40 seats and in case of a hung assembly would surely play a decisive role in government formation.



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