Mizoram Polls 2023: Whose Gaddi will it be?


Oineetom Ojha

This Mizoram election is poised for an interesting battle between four prominent players. While Chief Minister Zoramthanga, who heads the ruling Mizo National Front (MNF), is looking for a fourth term in office, Congress under the leadership of its new President Lalsawta is pulling all stops to make a comeback after ruling the state for five terms. BJP, an ally of the MNF in NDA and NEDA (North East Democratic Alliance) who had won just one seat in the 2018 elections is definitely trying to improve their tally. The new regional party in the state, Zoram People’s Movement (ZPM), headed by retired IPS officer Lalduhoma, is working towards wresting power from the MNF and forming the next government and scripting history.

How is each of the parties placed?

Congress: The Grand Old Party has swept the state twice winning the maximum number of seats. In 2008, the party bagged 32 seats. In the next elections in 2013 it even bettered its performance by winning two more seats and clinching 34 of the 40 seats – a record that still stands. The Indian National Congress (INC) has ruled the state for five terms. 71-year Lalsawta has a big task at hand because Congress had won just 5 seats in the 2018 Assembly polls and also because this will the first election that Mizoram Congress would be fighting without Lal Thanhawla, the veteran politician of the state and the longest serving (5 terms) CM of Mizoram.

MNF: The ruling Mizo National Front (MNF) is undoubtedly the strongest regional player in the state. The party won its first election in 1987 and Laldenga who led a secessionist war, became the first CM of Mizoram. MNF lost the 1989 polls to Congress and then came back to power in 1998 and 2003 under Zoramthanga as the CM. Again lost in 2008 and 2013 to Congress but came back with a thumping victory in 2018 and once again Zoramthanga became the CM. MNF’s best performance was in the 2018 polls when it managed to bag 27 seats. At 79, Zoramthanga has his eyes, head and heart set on a fourth term as Mizoram CM.

ZPM: Established in 2018 by a retired IPS officer who worked in the security detail of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and was elected as Lok Sabha MP in 1984 on a Congress ticket, Lalduhoma, the Zoram People’s Movement (ZPM) is the only other regional political party of Mizoram that is being taken seriously. In its debut in the Assembly polls in the same year, ZPM won eight seats, surprising and impressing a lot of people. The upcoming state Assembly election is expected to be a closely contested battle between ZPM and MNF and MNF chief Zoramthanga considers ZPM to be its closest rival this election.

BJP: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) emerged on the scene in the run up to the 2018 Mizoram elections as part of the Saffron Party’s pledge to create Congress mukt Northeast. The party fielded 39 candidates for the 40-member Assembly but could manage just one seat. This time the party is fighting in 23 seats. The biggest challenge for the party is to win over the Christian majority population. In 2018, the party had almost 9 per cent vote share. It is banking on the votes of minority communities like the Maras, Brus and Chakmas. This time the Mizoram BJP managed to bag two big politicians – former MNF MLA and Mizoram minister K. Beichhua who would be contesting from Siaha seat, and another MNF MLA and speaker of the assembly, Lalrinliana Sailo who would be contesting from the Mamit seat.

Though the main contest will be among the Big 4, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has entered the fray with four candidates.

With MNF, ZPM, and Congress, each of the parties exuding confidence in forming a government, it surely will be an interesting election ahead of the Lok Sabha polls early next year.