Sunday, December 28, 2008

Congress' "electoral Tsunami" in Mizoram: Why the Congress won a landsliding victory

By - Paritosh Chakma
In the recently concluded MLA elections, the Congress surprised every one by winning 32 seats in the 40-member Legislative Assembly! This surpassed even Congress workers’ own imaginations. It was "electoral Tsunami" for the Congress. The ruling MNF was almost rooted out, struggling to get 3 seats. The newly formed alliance UDA, despite all its tall claims proved to be no factor with 4 seats.

Every one is left guessing and speculating as to what led to this historic win, the first of its kind and magnitute in the electoral history of Mizoram.

Was it a miracle? By no means was it a miracle. It was a vote for change.

There are a complex mixture of several factors which came into play. In my opinion, the main issues were the following:

Killing of Rev. Chanchinmawia: Rev. Chanchinmawia, a veteran and influential Church leader, was allegedly killed. The murder has remained a mystery so far. The accusing figure pointed towards the complicity of the MNF government. The MNF was “compelled” to hand over the case to the CBI, after the Mizoram Police made no headway. The inability of the MNF government to bring the killers to justice did not go well with the Mizoram Presbyterian Synod, the state’s apex church. The church, it is an open secret, plays crucial roles in Mizoram elections. Extremely religious that the Mizos are, the killing of Rev. Chanchinmawia and indifference of the MNF government to nail to killers took the common Mizos away from the MNF.

Corruption: The Congress alleged that Zoramthanga administration was involved in huge corruption of BAFFOCOS money released by the Congress-led UPA government to combat the bamboo famine menace. The visit and lecture of Dr Manmohan Singh in Aizawl who exposed Zoramthanga government’s corruption and inability to deliver good goverance was enough to woo the learned Aizawlites. He shifted the winds in favor of the Congress as the Mizo voters wanted a change for good and corruption free governance. This is evident as the Congress won 8 out of 11 seats in Aizawl city.

Anti-incumbency factor: The Congress did brilliantly exploit the anti-incumbency factor against the MNF. During 10-year rule of the MNF only the leaders (including in the rural areas) benefited financially but not the poor masses. The MNF ignored the masses and paid heavily for this policy. The Congress could convince the voters that it would bring a change. The verdict against the MNF was so strong that Chief Minister Zoramthanga lost in both the seats he contested. This shows the frastration of the people agaisnt his rule and leadership during the 10-year MNF regime.

NLUP card: The Congress played the NLUP card by promising 1 lakh rupees of financial assistance under NLUP scheme for socio-economic development. General voters, especially in the rural areas do “recognize” money and they want some piece of concrete assurance from the political parties. The MNF had nothing new to offer.

Minority factor: The minorites – Chakmas and Brus - are traditional supporters of the Congress Party. They do not determine so mcuh in the government formation but has a critical role to play in at least five constituencies. The Congress continue to charm them.

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