NPP has fielded eight candidates in nine constituencies Credit: EastMojo image

Aizawl: The upcoming assembly election in Mizoram is witnessing several parties including that of Meghalaya CM Conrad K Sangma’s National People’s Party (NPP) trying to make inroads into the otherwise traditional bastion of either the Congress or the Mizo National Front (MNF).

The NPP, which is in power in Meghalaya, was launched in Mizoram on September 29, and is fielding eight candidates in nine constituencies of the state.

In an interview with EastMojo, Dr Lalrin Thagu, the national general secretary of NPP, elaborated on the party’s election agenda, apart from its coalition partners, if voted to power, the refugee crisis, and the liquor ban, among other things.

Talking about the party’s priority, Thagu said, “Improving road connectivity and entrepreneurship development in an agriculture based economy of Mizoram is on our agenda. We will be pushing for agro-production and scientific farming.”

With veterans such as Lal Thanhawla and Zoramthanga in the fray, NPP is debuting in Mizoram. Talking about its possibility of winning the polls, Thagu said, “We are looking beyond this election and the response from the public has been much better than what we had expected. We are hoping for a couple of seats, and we truly believe that we will constitute a major part of the next government. The youth of Mizoram is looking for a young leader, they don’t want old wine in a new bottle.”

Thagu added, “NPP is a tribal-centric party and with the majority of Mizoram’s population being tribal, we will not play against the tribes.”

NPP is in coalition with the BJP in the Northeastern states of Meghalaya, Manipur and Nagaland. It is also a part of the BJP-led NDA government at the Centre and a constituent of the North East Democratic Alliance (NEDA). When asked if they would they carry forward their alliance here as well and if they have decided upon any other coalition partner, Thagu pointed out, “A coalition is formed when you don’t have the numbers In Mizoram, we will be part of some kind of alliance, but we haven’t yet decided on a partner. We will pull out of a coalition if our partner’s ideology crosses ours.”

Talking about the Church playing an important role in the states politics, Thagu said, “The church has kept the Mizo people together. The church has played a very important role in the successful implementation of the Mizo Accord. Most of our leaders are Christians.”

With MNF making liquor ban, which was lifted by the Congress in 2014, their main election plank and the Church also endorsing a ban on alcohol, Thagu said, “We do believe in a strict law, but banning anything is not a solution. However, we neither condemn nor support the liquor ban. We advocate responsible living.”

Refugee crisis has for long been plaguing the state of Mizoram when it comes to casting their vote during election. Speaking on NPP’s stand on the issue, Thagu clarified, “I don’t see the Brus as refugees. They had been living happily as part of Mizo society. But in 1997, driven by political agenda, some misunderstanding was created which led to their migration to Tripura. But, later on despite efforts to repatriate them, some chose to stay back in Tripura. So far as elections are concerned, I believe that the Brus, who didn’t come back to Mizoram, should cast their votes in Tripura.”

Former parliamentary secretary Hmingdailova Khiangte, who recently resigned from the state legislature after being denied ticket by the ruling Congress, would be NPP’s candidate for Tuirial seat in Kolasib district, located on the border with Assam.

NPP state unit convener Lianzuala will contest from the Dampa constituency, while a retired Indian Forest Service (IFS) officer, B Suanzalang, will try his electoral luck from the Champhai North seat.

Former president of the erstwhile underground Hmar People’s Convention (HPC), Hmingchungnunga, would be the NPP’s nominee in the Serlui seat, while Kapliana Pachuau, a journalist and a fresher, would contest from the prestigious Serchhip seat against giants like chief minister Lal Thanhawla and Zoram People’s Movement (ZPM) chief ministerial nominee Lalduhoma.

First timers — John Lalremruata, Lalhuliana and D D Chakma — will contest from Kolasib, Thorang and Tuichawng seats, respectively, on NPP tickets.

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