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Homemizoram‘MNF’s doublespeak stands exposed’

‘MNF’s doublespeak stands exposed’

Ahead of the assembly polls in Mizoram, Lalduhoma, the chief of the ruling MNF’s main challenger Zoram People’s Movement (ZPM), tells Sumir Karmakar of DH that Chief Minister Zoramthanga is espousing the cause of “Zo Unification” only for votes. He, however, says that all political parties in Mizoram stand in solidarity with Manipur’s Kuki-Zo people, who were targeted and displaced during the recent conflict in the neighbouring state.

Why do you think your party, ZPM, can beat the ruling MNF?

It is going to be a straight fight between the MNF and the ZPM; because Congress is no longer a force to reckon with. Both the Congress and the MNF have been in power, one after another, for the past 36 years. People now want a change. They want to get rid of corrupt regimes. They have seen governments of the ruling parties and not the government of the people. The ZPM is the only alternative before them. We promise a corruption-free pro-people government. We made each of our candidates pledge before God that he would never take even a single penny as a bribe.

Chief Minister Zoramthanga says that the MNF is not facing any anti-incumbency wave. What do you think?

The opinion polls conducted recently by some reputed YouTubers in Mizoram have termed the ZPM as the most popular party, be it in the towns or in the villages. People are very much against the present regime. The MNF has been totally exposed. It opposes the policies of the BJP government at the Centre, be it the CAA or the Uniform Civil Code (UCC) or its actions during the conflict in Manipur. But it remains an ally of the BJP and, when the time comes, it supports the ruling party in Parliament. Zoramthanga resorts to doublespeak to win votes, for political gains. The MNF supported the NDA even during the recent trust vote in Parliament.

Do you think the support given to the Kuki-Zo people during the conflict in Manipur will help MNF in the elections?

All the political parties as well as the general public in Mizoram stand in solidarity with Manipur’s Kuki-Zo people, who have been victims of violence for months. We all have extended our support to the demand of Manipur’s Kuki-Zo communities for a separate administration. There is no difference of opinion among the political parties in Mizoran on the issue of the conflict in Manipur. No single political party can get a special advantage on this issue. Our party, ZPM, also collected money, clothes and other essentials for Manipur’s displaced Kuki-Zo people. So, the MNF alone will not get the benefits.

What is the ZPM’s stand on the UCC and the ‘refugees’ from Myanmar?

We are very much against the UCC as it is against our customary laws and culture. Regarding the refugees from Myanmar, the Centre is giving some financial support, although not officially. The refugees are our brothers and sisters. So, we will never betray them. It is a humanitarian issue. The Centre must also appreciate and understand this.

What is the ZPM’s target for the coming assembly elections?

I don’t want to talk about the number of seats we may win. But we are very much ready for the elections, we announced our candidates very early. We have already completed about 90% of campaigning, including in people-to-people contact mode. This has given us a great advantage against other parties. I am confident that we will get a comfortable majority.

Will the ZPM also join the NDA like the MNF after the elections as BJP is trying to take all regional parties on board in the northeastern region?

We are a regional party with a national outlook. We want to protect and preserve our identity as a regional party. We will not join any national party or group. But our support to the Centre will be totally issue-based. We may support, we may oppose, depending on the issue in question.

(Published 13 October 2023, 21:25 IST)

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