Aizawl: After taking Mizoram football to new heights, Robert Romawia Royte, the 55-year-old owner of Aizawl Football Club (FC), is all set to take on political giants in the upcoming assembly elections in the state slated for November 28. The former footballer is contesting on a Mizo National Front (MNF) ticket from the Aizawl East-II constituency.
This is not the first time the businessman has forayed into politics. Popularly known as ‘Triple R’, Royte had unsuccessfully contested the 2014 parliamentary polls as an independent candidate. Will he win this time around? Will football take a back-seat with Royte moving towards politics? These are some of the questions that Royte answered during a candid conversation with EastMojo (EM).
EM: After spending so many years in the football ground, you have now entered the political arena. How did that development happen?
Royte: I have taken this decision because of my desire and commitment to serve the people of Mizoram in a bigger way.
EM: Will it be on your agenda to develop football and spread the culture of football in Aizawl as well as other Northeastern states?
Royte: Yes, of course. Joining politics doesn’t mean that I have left football. I have joined politics with all my passion for the sport, and I have my football gear on me, my balls, jerseys and boots, and would certainly improve footballing activities in Mizoram.
EM: What is the reason behind joining Mizo National Front (MNF) and not any other party, such as Congress, which has served for over 10 years?
Royte: MNF is the oldest political party in Mizoram. It has shown commitment to Mizo nationalism, and development as well.
EM: The Mizoram Liquor Prohibition and Control Act (MLPC), 2014 is one of the prime agendas of MNF, but other parties including Congress are claiming that banning anything would only lead to chaos. What is your take on MLPC Act, 2014?
Royte: Free sale of liquor is detrimental to the society. In economic terms also, free sale indicates that huge sums of public fund gets diverted to other states, as we don’t produce any liquor in Mizoram. It is also against the doctrine of the Bible. So, MNF is committed to ensure total prohibition once it comes to power again.
EM: Soon after you entered the political arena, allegations have been hurled against you by other political parties. The Congress spokesperson has recently accused you of misappropriation of funds? What do you have to say about that?
Royte: Let them examine and blame the department implementing the particular scheme. It is the Congress which is implementing the scheme, my firm NECSE is a consultant to the project. These allegations are all baseless. It will only benefit my campaign. Wrong allegations in the Christian society is very detrimental to the people who lay such accusations. People know that these are false allegations. If there was any such misappropriation, why didn’t they take any disciplinary action back then? Why is it that they are laying such cheap accusations now? This will only lead to my popularity in my constituency. It will be the Congress party who will suffer the consequences.
EM: With so many parties contesting this time around how confident are about MNF winning the election?
Royte: There are a good number of indicators that the election wave is in favour of MNF. As many as 55 Village Councils and Local Councils have been converted to MNF from Congress and other parties. It is unprecedented. A good number of party leaders, including the vice-president of Mizoram Pradesh Congress Committee, MLAs, ex-MLAs, general secretaries, secretaries, advisors, district-, block- and unit-level functionaries have left Congress, the main rival of MNF in recent past and joined MNF. And, if you analyse the inflow of party workers of other parties from MNF or the outflow of party workers from MNF to other parties, it is very clear that the wave is in favour of MNF.
EM: Apart from MNF, how confident are you about winning the election? Do you think that there will completion in your constituency?
Royte: Competition will be there and my opponents are all better than me. If you see the defection of a good number of hardcore Congress leaders to MNF, it is very likely that the result will be in my favour.