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 Democracy
 
Battle for Mizoram: The contestants
Liberty Institute, India Thursday, November 21, 2013

Abhijit Deb
Only four women candidates are in fray out of total 142 candidates in a state where female voters outnumber males. It’s a fight among crorepatis for the top post in Mizoram assembly elections, writes Abhihit Deb.

Aizwal: Mizoram, a special category states which gets 90 per cent central grant to run it affairs, headed for rule by crorepatis.
The tax exemption for scheduled tribes seems to have benefited the top notch politicians the most in tiny hilly poll bound state of Mizoram.

According to affidavit filed by the candidates in run up to the elections, 75 candidates among total of 142 candidates are crorepatis, and all the state president of the parties like INC, MNF, ZNP are among croerpatis affidavits released by the Liberty Institute showed.

Mizoram goes to polls to elect the seventh Assembly on November 25 this month. 

Among the 75 crorepati candidates, 52 have not provided their PAN details while a total of 111 candidates have not revealed their PAN details, the analysis also revealed.

Meanwhile, Biakmawia from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) contesting from Aizawl North-III is the poorest candidate with assets worth a little more than Rs 10,000.

Former Speaker of Mizoram Assembly, R Lalawia, a frontrunner for Chief minister’s post in his party, contesting on a Zoram Nationalist Party ticket this time, has emerged as the richest candidate for the Mizoram Assembly elections. He has declared his asset worth Rs.68.69 crore in the affidavit submitted to the State Election Commission.

Lalawia, a contractor by profession, has filed his nomination from the Serlui seat in Kolasib district bordering Assam.

Following Lalawia, is the present state Chief Minister and Mizoram Pradesh Congress Committee president Lal Thanhawla with an asset over Rs 9.15 crore, is the second wealthiest party candidate. He is followed by former Chief Minister Zoramthanga of the Mizo National Front has declared his assets worth Rs 2.16 crore.

As per the affidavit date made available by the Liberty Institute, an independent, non-profit think tank, leads Empowering India, an initiative that attempts to empower voters with information about their candidates, constituencies, and political parties. Lal Thanhawla possesses Rs 89,86,247 as bank deposits while his wife Lal Riliani has property worth Rs 85,59,733.

Lal Thanhawla has immovable property worth Rs 7 crore while the valuation of his wife’s immovable property is Rs 40 lakh.

Mizoram People’s Conference chief Lalhmangaiha Sailo, a retired Indian Revenue Service officer, has property worth more than Rs 2.1 crore while Zoram Nationalist Party chief and former Lok Sabha member Lalduhawma is among the poorest among all political party presidents in the state with assets valued at Rs 1.7 crore.

Meanwhile, Biakmawia from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) contesting from Aizawl North-III is the poorest candidate with assets worth a little more than Rs 10,000.

On the other hand, after rejection of one nomination, as many as 140 candidates are left in the fray for the 40-seat Mizoram Assembly elections to be held on November 25.

The State Election department sources revealed that the nomination of one candidate for Tuikum constituency in Serchhip district was rejected after he filed nomination in two names, one without bank account number.

Among the 140 candidates include 40 candidates of the ruling Congress, 40 candidates of three-party alliance, Mizoram Democratic Alliance (MDA), 38 nominees of Zoram Nationalist Party, 17 Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidates, two candidates of Nationalist Congress Party, one Jai Mahabharat Party candidate, one Zoram Thar Duhtute nominee and two independent candidates. 

The ruling Congress has fielded all its 32 sitting MLAs except for Nirupam Chakma, who is being replaced by Dr B D Chakma, from Tuichawng constituency.

MDA candidates comprise of 31 Mizo National Front, eight Mizoram People's Conference and one Maraland Democratic Front parties.

Mizoram Chief Minister Lal Thanhawla is contesting in two seats - his traditional bastion Serchhip constituency that he currently holds and the other in Hrangturzo constituency.

Zoram Nationalist Party (ZNP) chief Lalduhoma is also contesting from two seats - Aizawl West-I that he currently represents and Kolasib seat.

Mizo National Front party chief and former Chief Minister Zoramthanga is contesting from East Tuipui constituency, carved out of the his erstwhile home constituency Champhai.

Zoramthanga had never lost an election till 2008. A former rebel leader, he was the Chief Minister of the State from December 1988 to December 2008.

Only four women candidates in fray

Though women voters outnumber male voters by 12,707 in the total electorate of 6,86,305 who will exercise their franchise, there are only four women candidates in the fray, compared to nine in the last Assembly elections in 2008 elections. MNF's lone woman candidate and sitting Aizawl Municipal councilor Lalmalsawmi is pitted against Congress candidate and Home Minister R Lalzirliana in the latter's home constituency of Tawi in Aizawl district. Congress woman candidate TBC Tlangthanmawii is pitted against ZNP chief Lalduhoma in Aizawl West-I.

BJP's woman candidate Zoramchhani is contesting from Lengteng constituency against State Food and Civil Supplies Minister, H Rohluna of the Congress.

Former president of Mizo Hmeichhe Insuihkhawm Pawl (MHIP), the largest Mizo women organisation, and champion of women rights in the male-dominated Mizo society, has decided to contest from Champhai North seat after she lost MNF ticket.

Mizoram paradoxically has no women representatives in the state legislature for years together. Mizoram began to have a separate legislature of its own since 1972 when it was elevated from a district council under the state of Assam to the status of union territory, but only six women, including three nominated legislators, have made it to the State Assembly in the past 41 years.

The only three women politicians who received the people’s mandate are Lalthanmawii of the People’s Conference, elected from the then Aizawl East seat in 1979 and K Thansiami of the PC (earlier nominated to the assembly in 1978) who was elected from the Aizawl West seat in 1984.
 
The first and only woman to become a minister and the last woman to make it to the Mizoram assembly till date is Lalhlimpuii Hmar, elected in 1987 as the Mizo National Front (MNF) nominee from Aizawl North-I constituency.

The November 25 polls is expected to witness a triangular fight between the ruling Congress, the three-party MDA and the ZNP.

Of the 40 constituencies, 19 are expected to witness triangular fight while 17 have four contestants and three constituencies see five contestants each. Palak constituency in southern Mizoram's Saiha district has only two candidates - P P Thawlla (of MNF) who is the present sitting legislator and former Rajya Sabha MP Hiphei from the Congress party.

Earlier, a total of 141 candidates had filed nomination papers for the Assembly election that is going to be held on November 25. As per Election Commission notification, Monday was the last day for withdrawal of candidature for the election to the 40-member State Assembly.

Meanwhile, Chief Election Commissioner VS Sampath said electronic voting machine with Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) would be used in 10 out of 11 constituencies within the limits of Aizawl city during the Mizoram Assembly elections scheduled for November 25. Sampath said the VVPAT system would be introduced in all polling stations of ten Assembly seats within Aizawl city.

This article was published in the Liberty Institute on Thursday, November 21, 2013.
Author : Mr Deb is a journalist based in Shillong, in the North Eastern state of Meghalaya.
Tags- Find more articles on - Election 2013 | Mizoram | Mizoram assembly election | Mizoram vidhan sabha

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