Mizoram polls: Cong to review poor electoral performance

The Congress, which suffered a humiliating defeat at the hands of the Mizo National Front (MNF) in Mizoram, will review its performance in the just-concluded assembly polls at a meeting on January 18, a party leader said Thursday.

All party candidates will be asked to attend the brainstorming session that will deliberate on the reasons for the debacle of the Congress in the election to the 40-member House, Mizoram Congress spokesperson Lallianchhunga told PTI.

In the assembly election results declared Tuesday, the Congress managed to bag only five seats compared to the 34 it had won in the 2013 assembly polls.

It came a poor third behind the MNF, which won 26 seats and the Zoram People’s Movement (ZPM), which won eight seats and is a new entrant in the state poll scenario.

Liberal liquor policy, advent of the ZPM and anti-incumbency factor were believed to be reasons due to which the Congress government in the Christian-majority Mizoram, the party’s last bastion in the northeastern region, fell.

Chief minister-designate Zoramthanga of the MNF Wednesday said the people might have rejected the Lal Thanhawla regime for its liberal policy towards liquor as against the expressed will of the churches.

He has already announced that his government would impose total prohibition.

Outgoing chief minister Thanhawla said his party’s electoral setback might be due to the opening of liquor shops in the state in 2015, after a spell of prohibition for 20 years.

Though he stopped short of accusing the churches of campaigning against his government and the Congress, Thanhawla said, “Campaigning from the pulpit should be prohibited.”

The powerful Presbyterian Church had organised mass prayers in all member churches across the state twice in 2014 against repeal of the prohibition.

Total prohibition was imposed in this highly-literate state since February 20, 1997, by the then Congress government. However, it was lifted in early 2015 by enforcing the Mizoram Liquor Prohibition and Control Act, 2014.

Lallianchhunga said the ZPM harmed both his party and the MNF, but it eroded the vote bank of the Congress more than the MNF because of the anti-incumbency factor.

In the election held on November 28, the MNF garnered 37.6 per cent votes, while the Congress managed 30.2 per cent. ZPM nominees, contesting the polls as independents, bagged 22.9 per cent votes.

A strong anti-incumbency wave worked against the 10- year-old Congress regime, Zoramthanga further said.

Some quarters also cited another reason for the Congress’ dismal performance — resignation of the assembly speaker, home minister and two former ministers.

Thanhawla denied any serious internal fighting in the party but admitted that some people campaigned against Congress candidates due to denial of party tickets.

The Congress and the MNF have been in the driver’s seat at different times since 1987 when Mizoram became a full-fledged state, but none has so far been able to form governments thrice in a row.

The MNF had also ruled the state for 10 years between 1998 to 2008, and was defeated by the Congress thereafter.

The BJP opened its account with a solitary seat in this Christian majority state. It won from a constituency in the minority Chakma dominated area in southernmost Mizoram bordering Bangladesh. It garnered eight per cent votes.

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