Mizoram elections

Aizawl: Just two months back, Robinson Khithie was working his dream job – teaching at one of the best colleges in Shillong, Meghalaya. He was an assistant professor in the Department of Political Science at St. Anthony’s College. But he left his job and his life in Shillong behind with one goal in mind: to change the face of politics in Mizoram

On May 5, Khithie will become one among 85 candidates vying for the 25-member Mara Autonomous District Council, one of three autonomous district councils in Mizoram. He is contesting from the Laty constituency, home to around 1,240 people and his hometown, Pala. The polling will take place on May 5, and votes will be counted on May 9. 

Robinson Khithie.

His foray into politics was not planned, but it had been a long time since his heart had been troubled seeing the people’s impoverished conditions and his village every time he came home for the holidays. 

“The way I was initiated or jumped into politics has not been long, it has been only around two months. I had never been in any political parties, I had never been a kind of agent or campaigner or anything. It is not a proper plan, but I just wanted to get into politics and try to make things better. This year, after I completed my PhD I looked at our village. Since 1999, I have been outside my village but the roads are still the same. There has been no development for the last almost 30 years. When I think of the politicians if they want they can do it. However, the poor conditions, whether it is the road or otherwise, everything remains the same. I want to jump into politics and bring some development here,” he told East Mojo.  

Even during his telephonic conversation with EastMojo, he was on his way to visit one of the villages in the Laty constituency, and he remarked on the poor road conditions, “Right now, the road that we are travelling here, our driver said that the roads are not motorable. Buffaloes and cows walk on these roads, it is not meant for vehicles.” 

The last time he went to his hometown was to spend Christmas with his family in 2021. There the talk of the upcoming elections was already brimming. One of his cousin brothers was planning to contest from their constituency, but he was unable to proceed as planned. So he had asked Khithie if he would contest instead. 

“I thought about it, and I thought of how our constituency, the northern belt of the MADC, was one of the most backward areas with no development at all. We have a river near our village, and there is no bridge, so when the monsoon comes, we are just outside the world. I started thinking that it is not enough to speak about these matters to the DC or BDO, I should join the political field. I really do not deserve the job that I had, but even though it was hard to let go, I thought if I can be a blessing to my people back at home, I should be able to sacrifice it,” he said. 

Khithie resigned on February 22, 2022, and left for Mizoram on March 18, 2022, after serving his notice period. He had been working at St. Anthony’s college since February 9, 2020. 

Youth must get involved, take a proactive approach

Khithie’s biggest goal is to pave the way for youth in politics, “To be honest, why I want to become a politician is this, now if we look at the whole of Mizoram or the whole of India, I want to promote the youth into politics. Once the power is in the hands of the youth, I feel like our country, our Mizoram or our Mara Autonomous District Council will be on the right track.”

“What I was thinking is that I will try to write mini books as much as possible and let politicians and people read it and let them do the job. However, when I was looking at many youths interested in politics, many old guys would tell them, ‘you are educated, why are you planning to jump into politics?’’ That is not right, you study and become some kind of officer. Many educated youths who wanted to jump into politics do not dare to get involved politically. For them to get into politics means to register or to involve in some political parties, and slowly they have to go and follow some kind of culture that political parties have. As a result, when they become politicians, their age has reached some certain level, so the youthfulness or the outlook has disappeared. Gradually, they have become a part of that political party and they are not able to change the system or the administration. But as for me, even though many people told me, you have a good job out there don’t involve in politics, politics is a dirty game it’s corruption, I just want to make the way for youth to get into politics, I would be kind of like an ice breaker for the youth to get into politics,” he said.  

He also aims at bringing forward good governance, “The second thing I would do is good governance that is what I would promote. If we look everywhere there is no transparency at all, starting from recruitment or the contract everything is done clandestinely or secretly. Everything is based on politics, there is no fairness, and there is no good governance. And also if we look at our administrators or civil servants whether it is in Mizoram or the council, there is no proper guidance or training for those who run the administration. I wanted to promote the administrative ethic in their working system.”

While different parties have invited him to contest as their candidate, Khithie made a firm decision that he would contest as an Independent candidate because breaking down the obsession over party politics is also one of his goals. “If we look here, people are crazy for this party politics and that is the reason why I didn’t want to take up or I don’t want to join any political parties. Some political parties have invited me to be their candidate but I have rejected them and I don’t want to join them…Every political party has their own culture so I don’t want myself to be spoilt by those party politics or party culture so that is the reason why I am fighting as an independent candidate.”

“What really struck me was that our village they only praise after some kind of political parties so if they are there they will try to vote if anyone it may be pig or goat or cow they will just vote it. That is what I want to change, the mentality of the people out here in the village and also the people of Maras and people who are living here in Mizoram. I feel that that mentality needs to be changed even if the politician is from our party. If he is not able to meet election time promises, we should try to switch on to the person who is better than him.”

Like many others in the MADC, Khithie believes their council has been neglected, as one of the major reasons why the MADC has lagged, Khithie said, it is due to the practice of bribery of auditors and also because 90% of the budget goes towards the salary of the council. “Despite the small allocation of the budget, around 90% of the budget or money has gone to salaries, so where can we bring any kind of development? Here in MADC, there are rumours even I accept to be true here whoever comes to MADC for an audit they will only bribe those auditors, they will take them here and there and they will go back. Those auditors who go to MADC, they will be paid some lakhs and everything they will settle it. But here If there is youth like me, we will be happy that everything is being audited properly, and if our wrongdoings or corruption is unearthed we will even go to jail also no problem. That’s what I want, but today many people say…we have to forgive them. Some people are old. Everything is taken for granted, they don’t want fairness, and they don’t want transparency. So what really happened inside the council no one knows….Until and unless there is a proper auditing system, there cannot be proper allocation of budget to MADC or ADCS. When they audit properly they will realize that the funds they have allocated to the ADCs are insufficient.”  

Lack of development, but plenty of hope and scope

Kithie is not able to promise jobs or present cash gifts to win over voters, he still has strong hope that he will be able to win through his honesty and vision, “I am an honest guy, and so when I go for this campaign I only speak honestly. I do not make any single promise so because I know how much budget we have…but once I am elected, I will only try to help the poor and bring upliftment to the area, and I hope and believe I will win because the people out here are very thirsty to get a good leader. They have seen many politicians, but they only make empty promises and they come and go. Now, they really need some good leaders who can bring some development and self-sufficiency.”

The former professor has a lot of visions, one of them is to make Mizoram self-sustainable through crops. While the Lati constituencies and their neighbouring constituencies are the least developed areas in the MADC, they also feature some of the most fertile lands and Khithie believes he will be able to help the local farmers grow enough to produce to supply the state of Mizoram. When asked if he believes his sacrifice and toil will be worth it, he told EastMojo, “I knew it will not be worth sacrificing if I only think of myself, it is very tiresome here. My village is very hot, and I feel so tired, however, if I can bring some good governance or if I can promote the life of the youth in the future, and if I can give some upliftment to my people in the rural area of this MADC or Mizoram as a whole, it is very much worth sacrificing.” 

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