For the last 10 years, the Congress has been banking on the New Land Use Policy (NLUP) and this time too the party has highlighted the policy during the election campaigns to cross the ensuing Mizoram Assembly elections slated to be held on November 28, 2018.
A series of huge roars erupted at Zaingnen Hall in the major town of Tuichang Assembly constituency when a strong crowd of 1,500 applauded Agriculture Minister KS Thanga’s speech in which the punchline was – “God is with us. He has blessed the New Land Use Policy, because the policy is for the poor farmers and the underprivileged”.
Tuichang Assembly constituency in Champhai district has drawn the attention of entire Mizoram as the sitting Congress MLA Lalrinliana Sailo rebelled against his party, resigned as the MLA and had joined the opposition Mizo National Front (MNF) party. But the MNF has already given a go ahead for number two Tawnluia, former Army chief of the then insurgent outfit, the MNF.
Lalrinliana Sailo, before his exit from the Congress party stated that Tuichang constituency was the most neglected among the ruling constituencies and that the Congress were trailing by more than 3000 votes despite being a Congress seat. He said that Lal Thanhawla has failed to create a new district in Khawzawl and the constituency was a goner for the Congress declaring Tawnluia as the potential new legislator.
Sailo’s claim that described dire straits for the Congress has received a new Midas touch, or the NLUP touch. At the official welcoming function of the INC’s official candidate James Thanghmingmawia at Zaingen Hall in Khawzawl, thousands of people are in favour of the NLUP than the claims made by their former MLA.
“He is the Juda Iscariot; he left us and has gone to join our political enemy,” said Malsawmdawnga, a 54-year-old butcher from Dinthar locality in Khawzawl.
“Sailo has defected. It is good for us. All he did was showering his kith and kin, we did not get anything from him, all that my family has received is the NLUP,” he said.
A public interest litigation complaint was filed before Gauhati High Court by a Vanramchhuangi challenging the legitimacy of the mode of NLUP’s distribution. The distribution was halted for a certain period of time but two weeks back, the Gauhati High Court declined to entertain the allegation of discrepancy and dismissed the PIL.
The crowd at Zaingen Hall expected NLUP related announcement from the two MLAs present at the meeting. It was then, the turn of Aizawl South III MLA and Agriculture Minister to make the call.
“We have done everything we can for the poor people of Mizoram. We have set aside hundreds of crore for the farmers and the poorer section of the people of Mizoram. However, the opposition parties have made several complaints to Prime Minister Narendra Modi,” Thanga stated.
“Modiji has dismissed their complaints and not only gave us more funds, but also asked other States to follow the Mizoram pattern, nothing will stand in the way of the NLUP, God has blessed the policy of the Mizoram Congress,” Agriculture Minister KS Thanga said and the crowd went crazy in rejoice.
The flagship programme of the ruling Congress, the NLUP was launched in 2008 and has already doled one lakh rupees each to more than 1.3 lakh families, the latest beneficiaries were credited first installment only recently, apart from the NLUP, under the Congress’ new scheme called the New Economic Development Policy over 30,000 families are being given the same one lakh assistance.
A young MLA from Lunglei East constituency, Joseph Lalhimpuia went on: “The opposition parties have promised you economic providence, but yet have asked the Gauhati High Court to stop what is being given to you now by the Congress, we will not stop, my department has allocated Rs 83 crore for NLUP; some farmers were credited but the then MNF went to the High Court and stalled the process.”
He also told the audience, “We have Rs 83 crore ready to be credited to your account, thanks to the MNF they delayed us, but don’t you worry, Mizoram will go to polls on November 28, the remaining money will be transferred to your account from November 29, as soon as the model code of conduct ceases,” the young MLA and the chairman of Mizoram Youth Commission said.
Induction of 25 families from the BJP followed, one member from the families said: “The Congress has NLUP, BJP doesn’t; the BJP promised us money, gas stoves, agricultural lands, only promise doesn’t make a dinner.”
The resurrection from poverty, according to the Congress in Mizoram can only be achieved through its flagship programme of NLUP.
Ten years ago, the two-term ruling party, the MNF thought they were invincible, but anti-incumbency struck hard and the Congress won the 2008 election by a landslide victory, the campaign catchphrase then, for the Congress was ‘Give us a membership fee of Re 1, we will give you one lakh NLUP assistance’, and even after ten years, NLUP assistance of Rs 1 lakh is still the trump card, the Congress is holding.