Mizo National Front's 2018 winning promise will be its nemesis this time: Congress

"Mizos are Christians and they don't like BJP's agenda. People will reject ZPM because it has tied up with BJP. MNF is a gone case," the State Congress president said.
Mizoram State Congress president Lalsawta
Mizoram State Congress president Lalsawta

AIZAWL: The Congress said the much-hyped Socio-Economic Development Programme (SEDP) that kept the ruling Mizo National Front (MNF) afloat in 2018 might sink the party's proverbial ship in this Mizoram election.

State Congress president Lalsawta said the MNF had unseated the grand old party in the last election by promising Rs 3 lakh to each beneficiary of SEDP, a flagship programme, but ended up giving only Rs 25,000. He alleged the beneficiaries were also the "lucky ones" from the ruling party.

"In 2018 elections, it was Rs 1 lakh NLUP (New Land Use Policy) versus Rs 3 lakh SEDP. They (MNF) won through SEDP and they will now lose through SEDP," Lalsawta predicted while talking to The New Indian Express.

He said the promise of Rs 3 lakh under SEDP was the main reason behind the Congress' defeat in the last election. "But people have been cheated," Lalsawta, a former minister, said.

NLUP was a flagship programme of the previous Congress government under which financial assistance of Rs 1 lakh was provided to beneficiaries to generate self-employment. 

When Chief Minister Zoramthanga was asked about the promise of Rs 3 lakh during a media interaction on Tuesday, he said money was being given to beneficiaries in installment of Rs 25,000 each. He said they received two installments. Funds are normally not given to beneficiaries in one go, he said.

The BJP has promised to set up a special investigation team to probe alleged irregularities in the implementation of SEDP.

Lalsawta felt the polls would be keenly contested.

"It is going to be a tough fight. Issues have changed because BJP is intending to shut (ally) MNF and align with ZPM (Zoram People’s Movement). It's a sad affair. They (BJP and MNF) are attacking each other," he said.

He claimed that as per the reported understanding between BJP and ZPM, former Assembly Speaker Lalrinliana Sailo of ZPM would be appointed as the deputy chief minister if the two parties form the next government.

"But Mizos are Christians and they don't like BJP's agenda. People will reject ZPM because it has tied up with BJP. MNF is a gone case, for people are disappointed with its performance and they won't give it another term," Lalsawta claimed.

He was confident the Congress would return to power, stating that people are convinced it would never walk together with BJP. He claimed the Congress' poll prospects brightened after the BJP-ZPM secret partnership came to light.

"We feel threatened by the BJP's agenda. We regard December 25 as the birthday of Jesus Christ. But BJP designated the Christmas Day as Good Governance Day after former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. It removed the words 'socialist' and 'secular' from the preamble of Constitution. Then, the counting of Mizoram election votes has been scheduled on a Sunday. So, we are concerned over how BJP is trying to dilute the Christian practice," Lalsawta said.

The Congress is contesting all 40 seats and upbeat about its victory. However, observers have predicted a contest between MNF and ZPM.

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The New Indian Express