AIZAWL: In the run-up to the November 7 polls for the 40-member Mizoram Assembly, the main battle is shaping up to be a face-off between the ruling Mizo National Front (MNF) and the opposition Zoram People’s Movement (ZPM), a relatively new entrant in the state’s electoral politics.
In the current political scenario of the state, the ZPM, led by former IPS officer-turned-politician Lalduhoma, seems to have emerged as a significant challenger to both the MNF and the Congress.
During the 2018 Assembly polls, ZPM’s candidates had to contest as Independents since the party was not registered by the Election Commission of India (ECI). Nevertheless, ZPM managed to secure 8 seats but lost two in subsequent bypolls. The party chief, Lalduhoma, successfully retained the Serchhip seat in a by-election.
Lalduhoma, a 73-year-old police officer-turned-politician, has now positioned himself as a leading contender for the Chief Ministerial post in the upcoming elections.
Speaking to a national news agency, he expressed confidence in his party’s performance, saying, “My party (ZPM) would secure a landslide victory in the November 7 Assembly polls, and we would form the next government in Mizoram. This is a thousand percent assured. There is no question of aligning with any other party as we would win much more than the majority number of seats.”
Lalduhoma’s vision for ZPM includes a promise of a new system of governance, different from what the Congress and MNF have offered. He has garnered significant public support by emphasising the need for comprehensive development and the welfare of the Mizo people, which, he claims, the incumbent parties have failed to deliver.
The ZPM chief’s political journey is marked by his past role as the security in-charge for late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and his involvement in the organising committee of the 1982 Asian Games. Due to his close ties with the Gandhi family, he initially joined the Congress after leaving the civil service in 1984. His pivotal role in negotiating with Laldenga, the leader of the Mizo National Front, during insurgency, resulted in the Mizo Peace Accord in June 1986.
After a brief stint as a Congress nominee in the Lower House of Parliament, Lalduhoma left the party due to internal issues following the assassination of Indira Gandhi in 1984 and was disqualified under the anti-defection law in 1988. In 1997, he founded the Zoram Nationalist Party (ZNM), and in 2003, he was elected to the Mizoram Assembly from Ratu. Before the 2018 Assembly elections, ZNM, along with six local parties, formed the Zoram People’s Movement (ZPM) as a coalition group, projecting Lalduhoma as the chief ministerial candidate.
In the 2018 polls, Lalduhoma secured victories in two seats, Aizawl West I and Serchhip, with the latter being the constituency of then Chief Minister and veteran Congress leader Lal Thanhawla. However, he retained the Serchhip seat.
Over the past few years, the ZPM has gained ground in local elections and is now emerging as a formidable third front in Mizoram’s traditionally dual-party electoral landscape. The ZPM is banking on anti-incumbency sentiments against the MNF, with its focus on combating corruption and promoting economic empowerment for the state’s youth and farmers.