Mizoram remains the last bastion of the Congress party in the northeast and if the exit poll results are to be believed, the grand old party may just fall short of retaining power in the state. Though Mizoram is witnessing a two-corner contest between the Congress and the Mizo National Front (MNF), the possibility of a hung Assembly is looming large in the neck-and-neck contest. While Chief Minister Lal Thanhawla has said that is confident of retaining power, Zoramthanga is eyeing a comeback. Here’s a look at the heavyweights contesting the elections for the 40-member Assembly:
The former chief minister and Mizo National Front (MNF) president Zoramthanga is contesting from Aizawl East I constituency. He will be fighting Congress candidate KVanlalrawna and BJP candidate Laldinliana Sailo from the constituency.
Zoramthanga had served as the chief minister of the state for two consecutive terms, from 1998 to 2008.
MNF had lost the 2008 Assembly elections to the Congress and the MNF leader had cited incumbency as the reason for the loss. He had contested from both North and South Champhai but lost in both constituencies. They also lost in the 2013 elections.
In 1990, he became the president of the party. When the assembly elections were held at the end of 1998, he led his party to victory and became the fifth chief minister of Mizoram, he was re-elected in 2003.
Zoramthanga had said that he was confident of returning to power because of the failure of the Congress government in all respects including financial management.
The former chief minister has Rs 10 lakh in cash and immoveable properties, including cars and bank accounts, worth Rs 57.22 lakh, according to the affidavit filed by him. Zoramthanga has agricultural land worth Rs 20 lakh and a land and a building at the Chaltlang locality in Aizawl worth Rs 1.25 crore. His wife Roneihsangi has only Rs 7 in cash, Rs 43,756 in her bank accounts and moveable properties and a land and a building worth Rs 1.5 crore at the Ramhlun Venglai locality in Aizawl. Zoramthanga's son and daughter have Rs 28,398 each in their bank accounts.
Zoramthanga is fighting criminal charges, the report of the Mizoram Election Watch (MEW) and Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) said. It is based on affidavits filed to the Election Commission by the aspirants.
He had cast his vote at Ramhlun polling booth in Aizawl North-II constituency.
In 2007, the Mizoram Liquor Total Prohibition Act banning sale and consumption of alcohol was amended during the Zoramthanga's rule. He allowed wine to be made from guavas and grapes, but with restrictions on the alcohol content and the volume possessed.
The Mizoram Chief Minister is contesting from two seats - Serchhip and Champhai South-ST – and is fighting Mizo National Front (MNF)'s C Lalramzauva and Zoram People's Movement’s (ZPM) chief ministerial candidate Lalduhoma from Serchhip constituency and TJ Lalnuntluanga from Champai South constituency. In 2013, Thanhawla won by a margin of 734 votes defeating his nearest MNF rival Lalramzauva, who got 4,985 in a four-cornered contest. Thanhawla got 5,719 votes in the elections.
The nine-time MLA, Thanhawla, is aiming for a third consecutive term. The Congress has been power in the state since 2008. In 2013 assembly elections, the Congress won 34 seats, while the main opposition party Mizo National Front (MNF) got five and Mizoram People's Conference bagged one.
Thanhawla's total assets have increased by 33.29 per cent to Rs 12,20,19,747 in 2018 from Rs 9,15,45,980 in 2013. He said that his source of income is "salary and rental income", his wife's earnings are attributed to "licence from quarry at Sakawrtuichhun".
A tribal organisation has appealed to Mizoram's powerful Presbyterian Church to support Chief Minister Lal Thanhawla in the Assembly election, describing him as a "prominent Christian leader" in the country.
Thanhawla had earlier said that he will "break the jinx" of no party winning the third consecutive term by forming the next Congress government with full majority. "I am going to break the jinx because of our good work. I am coming with full majority," Thanhawla, who was with his wife Lal Riliani, told reporters after casting his vote at Zarkawt-II polling station in the state capital.
The nine-time MLA also alleged that opposition BJP, which is looking to open its account for the first time in the state, is pumping in huge money, mostly in the minority areas of Chakmas and Brus, to get votes.
In Mizoram, support of 21 MLAs is needed to form a government in assembly, the counting of which will take place on December 11. "If like-minded parties come to me and want to support my leadership, then they may (be) welcomed," Thanhawla had told PTI during an interview when asked if the Congress is willing to form a post-poll alliance if it does not get a simple majority.
Mizoram is the only state in the north-east where the Congress is in power.