Mizoram: ZPM to Form Govt with Towering Promises, New Vision, But on a Rocky Road
Zoram People's Movement (ZPM) workers celebrate party's lead during counting of votes for the Mizoram Assembly elections, in Aizawl, Monday, Dec. 4, 2023. Image Courtesy: PTI
Citizens of Mizoram have showered their beliefs upon ZPM (Zorum Peoples' Movement), a new political party formed just five years back, with the chief ministerial candidate Lalduhoma. With swearing in of the new legislatures within a few days, Mizoram will witness a history of breaking the binary political system where Congress and the incumbent MNF (Mizo National Front) have formed the governments alternately for the past 35 years.
The thumping majority with which ZPM has come into power is at the backdrop of the lofty dreams the party showed before the election, with the tagline of a new system of governance and a government of people. People of Mizoram, reeling under the chronic problem of unemployment despite being the third state in India in terms of literacy rate (91.33% as per the 2011 census), the economic crisis and the significant burden of debt, found hope in the promises and visions that ZPM promoted.
However, the new government is going to face hard challenges in its way. On the one hand, it will have to try to fulfil the aspirations of the people of the state, and on the other hand, it will have economic and governance-related hurdles. Mizoram has a debt-to-GDP ratio of 53.1%, indicating a high debt in comparison to the goods and services the economy produces, dilapidated conditions of schools and a weakening health care system. The state depends largely on the central government for economic needs.
Mizo Nationalism and the Center-State Relationship
B Lalchhanzova, the new ZPM MLA from the Aizawl East-II constituency, talked to NewsClick about the challenges facing the new government.
"The state has a high amount of debt to the central government. This is a big challenge. Our government will take austerity measures in the first place. The expense for the ministers and the functioning of the council of ministers will be lessened. There will be no buying of new cars for the MLAs, and for the coming five years, there will be no increase in the benefits of the MLAs, whether salaries or other facilities."
Lalchhanzova also said they would appeal to the people for austerity.
Lalchhanzova elaborated on the functioning of his party, which differentiates ZPM from others.
"ZPM's motto is of a new system of governance in a participatory fashion, and that's why we call it the government of the people. Our party constitution has several unique points, one of which is that the CM and the party president will not be the same person, and an individual can be the CM for a maximum of two terms or ten years. ZPM's advisory body, or the VUC, plays an important role in deciding party policies, and it will certainly have a role in the government as well. The VUC decided that Pu Lalduhoma would be the CM if ZPM won the election."
On the planning for his constituency, Lalchhanzova said, "In my constituency, there are seven localities and hence seven local councils. There will be a local development committee (LDC) in all constituencies. The LDCs will have one representative from a political party, stakeholders like MYA (Mizo Young Association), women's organisations, senior citizens, and prominent citizens with MLA as the chairperson. The LDCs will decide how to utilise the fund and when to utilise it. ZPM is determined to ensure the democratic system."
"Security, road connectivity, and electricity are of prominent concern for the Aizawl East-II constituency, which is at the heart of the Aizawl city. Apart from these, my primary focus will be on the poorest of the poor. Based on the funds allocated by the government, I would focus on this section and women's groups to provide better income facilities."
Zo-Reunification, Manipur Violence and BJP-led Central Govt
ZPM has declared for Zo-Reunification in its manifesto, bringing the Zo-Kuki people anywhere in the world under one administration. Notably, this stand has also been projected by the MNF. The Mizos also belong to the larger Zo community residing in Manipur, Myanmar, Bangladesh or elsewhere in the world.
On the issue of Zo-reunification, Lachhanzova agrees that the ZPM constitution also fosters it, and he talks about the reunification process in terms of boundary and blood relations of the people scattered in different regions.
"Some of the prominent historians have already drawn a new map of Mizoram. If possible, we will try to expand the boundary of Mizoram state. This is what I meant when I said about Zo-reunification in terms of boundary. But that will have to be worked out with the Central government," he said.
"In Manipur, the Zo-Kuki people faced atrocities, and so in Myanmar under the Junta. They are our blood-relatives, and they fled to Mizoram seeking shelter," he added.
But in Manipur, there is a BJP government, as in Centre. Will the new ZPM government in Mizoram face some contradiction over the issue? The previous CM of Mizoram Zoramthanga offered refuge to the Zo-Kuki people who fled from Manipur and Myanmar, which the central government did not support.
On it, Lalchhanzova appeared hopeful, "See, what I believe is that in Myanmar, there will be restoration of a democratic system, and India is also a democratic country. So, I believe we can convince the Central government of it after the violence ceases in Myanmar and Manipur."
"We should not consider the Myanmar refugees as our enemies. If they come to Mizoram to protect their lives, then forgetting everything, even on humanitarian grounds, they should be provided shelters as refugees."
On the issue, Lalrinpui of ZPM, one of the three women MLAs this time in Mizoram also shared nearly similar views. Lalrinpui told Newsclick over the phone, "ZPM stand for Zo-reunification. And for this matter, the new government will surely have discussions with the Central government, especially the home ministry."
However, she said, "Those who came from Myanmar are foreigners for India. And there are economic issues as well for sheltering them in Mizoram. The state government will need the Centre's support in this regard. I think we will find a way out after the discussions."
Government to Provide Easy Way for the Farmers
Lalrinpuii won from the Lunglei East constituency with a margin of 1,646 votes. Besides the 'Zo' issue, Lalrinpuii, highlighting ZPM's core issue of farmers' upliftment, said, "Our government will provide easy ways for the farmers to benefit from their labour. For example, the first thing will be ginger cultivation, which has enormous potential in the state. There will also be a minimum support price from the government, which in ginger will be Rs 50/kilo."
The implementation of the SDRP (Sustainable Development and Reform Policy), the flagship programme of ZPM and also their campaigning agenda, in a phase-wise manner, is the top priority of the ZPM government.
"How to start with the new reforms is well envisioned in our manifesto—like investing in different sectors, including sericulture, horticulture, animal husbandry, among others. We will work accordingly. There will be agriculture-link roads, and the government will aim to export agricultural products in the future."
On being one of the few female legislatures, Lalrinpuii said that the victorious women candidates would surely provide leadership for the women inside the Assembly.
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