All you need to know about Mizoram election
The Mizoram Legislative Assembly election for 2023 took place on November 7, aiming to select all 40 members of the state’s Legislative Assembly. The election results are pending and are scheduled to be announced on December 3, along with the results of state Assembly elections in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, and Telangana.
However, leading up to the judgment day, both the public and political analysts are visibly eager to see Mizoram’s electoral choice. This election is regarded as a crucial moment for Mizoram’s future, with the Mizo National Front (MNF), Zoram People’s Movement (ZPM), and the Congress being the three key parties in contention.
(Previous election data)
Mizoram’s population in 2023 is estimated to be 12.4 lakhs and by May 2024, the state’s population is projected to be 12.38 lakhs as per Unique Identification Aadhar India, updated 31, May 2023. Currently, 87 per cent are Christians, followed by Buddhists with 8.5 per cent, and Hindus with 2.7 per cent, in the state. This population division is one of the important statistics to find out what the voting trends will be like.
Fear of religious imposition to benefit Congress
On polling day, The New Indian team visited various areas of Aizawl to engage with the voters. During these interactions, voters consistently expressed concerns related to religious imposition. In the Zotlang area of Aizawl, in particular, voters voiced apprehensions regarding the religious policies of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
“The main issue is that the Church plays an important role here. For us, religion is really important. The BJP has raised the Hindutva issue, but we Christian minority feel we have been sidelined.
“For us Christians, Sunday is important, why government programmes are organised on Sunday, slowly they are imposing these things indirectly,” said Vananhualwa, an elderly school teacher from Aizawl.
The New Indian also spoke to the BJP candidate from Aizawl South-1 F, Lalremsangi, who, however, refuted the claims of religious intolerance. “Congress has attempted to brand us (BJP) as a Hindu party. It’s Congress propaganda only, people now see that PM Modi has given so many schemes for the people, the urban population has realised that BJP is for development and not to increase Hindusim,” he said. This perceived image of the BJP has helped the Congress to be the de facto national party in the state, he added.
Zo-Unification to benefit MNF:
The MNF government grappled with the issue of anti-incumbency until Chief Minister Zoramthanga successfully addressed two critical issues that helped restore his image. The initial challenge involved the ongoing civil war in Myanmar along the Mizoram border. The India–Myanmar border signifies the international boundary between the two countries.
The border spans a length of 1,643 kilometres, extending from the tripoint with China in the north to the tripoint with Bangladesh in the south. Against the backdrop of the ongoing civil conflict between the military junta and the people’s defence forces, there has been a migration to Mizoram, involving individuals from the larger Zo-Chin group. In recent times, a notable influx of refugees from Myanmar, estimated to be between 5,000 and 6,000, has occurred in India.
Coupled with that, the Manipur conflict has seen over 12,000 internally displaced peoples from the Kuki community entering Mizoram. Both the refugees are connected to the greater Zo-Kuki-Chin group and as such resolve sentiment for the local Mizoram people. CM Zoramthanga has been vocal about giving them shelter and rehabilitation and his stand has been well received by the people that has shaped his rebranding.
The MNF manifesto also emphasised the goal of uniting Zo people worldwide under a single government, guided by a “higher authority” as outlined in the UN’s 2007 Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Zoramthanga reiterated this aspect, highlighting that the political objective of the governing MNF for over 60 years has been the unification of all Mizo-inhabited areas under a unified administration.
Development politics and neutral swing to benefit ZPM:
The literacy rate in Mizoram has seen an upward trend and is 91.33 per cent as per the latest population census. Speaking to more voters across Mizoram, a big part of the agenda revolving around their voting is development issues.
A cafe owner just near the airport in Lengpui stated that road connectivity and development are the key issues that concern him. “This time, more than party affiliation, we are more focused on the candidates. As a neutral voter, people are attracted to ZPM because we have already given a chance to Congress and the MNF and now we want an alternative,” he said.
Rosie Ralte, a first-time voter from Aizawl West says that development is the key issue for her while going to vote. Political analysts have revealed that neutral voters will swing towards ZPM.
According to ZPM MLA Vanlalthlana, the impartial swing in voters’ sentiment will work in their favour. While acknowledging that Congress and MNF have contributed to the state, he believes Mizoram has the potential to excel compared to other states in aspects like education quality and the ratio of highest GSDP to debt. Vanlalthlana emphasised that, from the perspective of the youth, ZPM is seen as a better alternative.
Minorities to vote for BJP:
In October, the MNF experienced a notable setback when numerous leaders, including four members of the district council (MDC) – Parimal Chakma, Hiranand Tongchangya, Ajoy Kumar Chakma, and Sanjeev Chakma – resigned from the primary membership in the Chakma Autonomous District Council (CADC). Additionally, a total of 39 MNF members, along with 16 female members, chose to relinquish their primary membership from the Chakma Autonomous District Council.
In their resignation letter to the MNF President, they pointed out several shortcomings and expressed their frustration with the limited ability of public leaders to address various development issues for the people of the Chakma Autonomous Council. BJP National Spokesperson and Mizoram BJP in charge, Mmhonlumo Kikon, noted that many leaders had switched allegiance to the BJP, attracted by the party’s ideology.
“MNF has stated that few have left the party as they were not given tickets. But already, they had expressed their willingness to join the BJP, and as such they weren’t given a ticket,” Kikon told The New Indian.
The BJP has been gradually gaining influence in the Chakma and Mara district councils. In the recent election for the Mara Autonomous District, the saffron party secured a decisive victory by winning 41 out of 99 village councils. The Mamit assembly segment encompasses a diverse voter base, including communities such as the Bru and Chakma.
Sailo, the present MLA, has a potential opportunity for victory due to the four-way competition in Mamit. The BJP has garnered support from minority communities by establishing a strong grassroots organisation and criticising the MNF government for insufficient development in the district council areas.
The Mizoram Election 2023 saw 78.38 per cent voter turnout and over 8 lakh (8,50,288) people were eligible to cast a vote across 1,276, polling station in the north-eastern state. The maximum voter turnout of 84.78 per cent was recorded in the Serchhip district, as per the data on the Voter Turnout app.
This was followed by 84.23 per cent voter turnout in the Mamit district and 84.16 per cent in the Hnahthial district. Among the Assembly constituencies, Tuikum-27 recorded the highest voter turnout with 87.32 per cent.
The New Indian spoke to political analyst and Professor of Mizoram University Jangkhongam Doungel, who articulated that the fight is between MNF and ZPM. “The Congress has organisational issues on the ground and as such the MNF and ZPm are the main contention. The atmosphere is looking towards ZPM but the question is will that translate into votes?” he said.
He further highlighted that the Zo-unification issue will prove to be an advantage for Zoramthanga as his handling of the situation has re-invented his image among the people. “Manipur situation has impacted the voters as people have blood relations with the greater Kuki-Chin group,” Doungel added.