Mizo National Front (MNF) on Tuesday crushed the Congress in the state assembly election in Mizoram. While analysts are assessing the reasons behind the debacle of the Congress, the biggest challenge for the MNF now would be to keep the “pre-poll promises”.
In 2008, MNF was dethroned by the Congress as Mizoram was in distress, suffering from acute food crisis and famine in some of the areas. And, even MNF chief Zoramthanga had lost the election in his home constituency, Champhai North.
Today, the scene is just the opposite. The MNF has absolute majority with 26 seats, and is sure to form the new government in Mizoram. Veteran politician Zoramthanga is all set to take over as the ninth Chief Minister of Mizoram.
The MNF ruled Mizoram from 1998 to 2008, and towards the end of the second term, people had lost faith as the party broke all its promises. The crusade against MNF had started in 2007 when the Zoram Kuthnathawktu Pawl, an organisation of distressed farmers, protested in Aizawl.
The farmers were paranoid because hordes of rats destroyed their paddy and other crops for the second successive year. More than 700 villages were gripped by Mautam— the phenomenon of bamboo flowering that occurs at an interval of 50 years and subsequent destruction of crops by rodents. This resulted in acute food scarcity in Mizoram and the MNF government was not in a position to handle the situation.
Soon political parties and social organizations joined the Zoram Kuthnathawktu Pawl to train their guns at the MNF government. The church, which is a key factor in Mizo society, had also started pointing fingers at Zoramthanga’s government for its failure in all fronts.
Condition of roads was getting bad to worse, and the MNF government was turning a blind eye to the problem. Condition of healthcare facilities had totally collapsed from 2003 to 2008, and the education and power sectors were also badly hit because of inefficiency and rampant corruption. The Centre had given over Rs 3,800 crore grants between 2004 and 2008, and majority of the fund was either swindled or remained un-utilized.
Despite being in the government, the MNF was accused of hobnobbing with armed insurgent groups, and was also accused of creating the Sinlung Peoples’ Liberation Organisation by recruiting over 200 Hmar boys.
While reeling under pressure from political opposition, civil society, church and the agitating farmers, the MNF, in a knee-jerk reaction had created two new districts – Khawzawl and Hnahthial. But the two new districts, which they claimed to be the “Christmas gift”, were not enough to appease the common people.
Infuriated with the failure in all fronts, the electorates in 2008 voted against the MNF, and made the way for the Congress government to take over the reins of Mizoram. The Congress bagged 29 out of 40 seats with former Chief Minister Lalthanhawla winning from both Serchhip and South Tuipui seats.
Today, MNF leadership, and especially Zoramthanga will have to guarantee that it corrects its past mistakes, and resolves all the political and socio-economic issues of Mizoram. During the run up to the election, MNF had promised self-sufficiency in food grain supply.
Secondly, the MNF has promised to bring in a policy to augment bamboo plantation across Mizoram. The party has also promised to bring about total social reform. Mizoram has a problem of drug abuse. Besides many people dying of liquor consumption, many are also into drug consumption.
MNF has proposed to join hands with doctors, evangelists, sportspersons and educationists to clean up the social evils, and also set up a couple of quality centre for rehabilitation. The victorious party has also promised to provide good healthcare to the people.
The next five years is going to be a tight rope-walk for MNF because it is going to be a Herculean task to implement all the pre-poll promises it had made to the electorates of Mizoram. For Zoramthanga, the topmost priority now should be to keep the pre-poll promises. Can MNF keep its promises?