Aizawl: Counting of votes in the Mizoram assembly elections 2018 got underway on Tuesday with Congress and Mizo National Front once again expected to emerge as the two biggest political parties. A lot is at stake here for the competing political parties, especially the incumbent Congress which has lost every other state in the northeast in the recent past.
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Congress has put up a brave and confident face with incumbent CM – Lal Thanhwala - saying people in the state will reward him with another term due to the work done at the ground level. While he has had several terms as CM, three consecutive terms in office have eluded Thanhwala so far – a milestone he would be hoping he reaches this time. Little wonder that Congress – a party that has been wiped out in every other state in the North-East, has gone the extra mile to make lofty promises.
If voted to power in Mizoram for the third consecutive time, students who clear the High School Leaving Certificate (HSLC) exam for Class 10 and above will be given laptops every year, the Congress manifesto has stated. The party has also assured that the New Land Use Policy (NLUP) would be taken forward with enhancements for better implementation and better financial assistance. Interestingly, Congress has also promised to construct race tracks for motorsports enthusiasts here.
Not to be left behind, the MNF too has made promises galore. Claiming that fighting corruption and establishing a transparent government are its top priorities, the party has assured to check on illegal migrants and come up with a plan for rehabilitation for families of martyrs.
Led by Zoramthanga, a seasoned political campaigner, the MNF has been at the forefront in highlighting the shortcomings of the Congress government here. The party has been further bolstered by exit polls, a majority of which have predicted that it would emerge as the single-largest party.
What could, perhaps, dent the prospects of both Congress and MNF is a rookie political party called Zoram People's Movement - an alliance between Zoram Nationalist Party, Mizoram Peoples Conference and the newly formed Zoram Exodus Movement. Exit polls have largely also predicted that ZPM will eat into the vote shares of both Congress and MNF. This, if proven true on counting day, could be a massive shot in the arm for a party that was only formed in 2017.
Then there is the Bharatiya Janata Party which has campaigned extensively in Mizoram, a state it considers its last unconquered bastion in the North-East. While not many expect BJP to have numbers that could make a mark, the party has time and again showed that its rise in the region can never be under-estimated. Tripura is a recent case in point and in Mizoram, the party could well be hoping to stitch up a post-poll alliance in case of a hung verdict.
So, while most political pundits may still be terming Mizoram as a fight between the two largest parties here – Congress and MNF, the final verdict could well set the cat amongst the pigeons.