Congress Faces Unprecedented Setback in Mizoram Elections

Congress Faces Unprecedented Setback in Mizoram Elections

Aizawl - On Monday, Congress leaders in Mizoram keenly felt the absence of former CM Lalthanhawla, who led the party to victory five times since 1986. The grand old party suffered its most significant defeat in the state, securing only one seat in the 40-member Assembly.

Despite contesting all 40 seats with confidence in a comeback, the Congress found solace in C Ngunliangchunga, who won in Lawngtlai West constituency, defeating MNF rival V Zirconia with 423 votes.

Congress state president Lalsawta, projected as the party's leader post-Lalthanhawla's "retirement" in 2021, faced a resounding defeat in Aizawl West-III, trailing by 4,833 votes with 4,369 votes in his favor.

Expressing the sentiment, a Congress leader in Mizoram stated, "We really feel the absence of Lalthanhawla. We need a strong leader like him to help the party bounce back."

The downfall of Congress in Mizoram began in the 2018 Assembly elections when the party secured only five seats, landing in the third spot. The MNF claimed victory, ending the 10-year-long Congress government led by Lalthanhawla, attributing the loss to the emergent Zoram People's Movement (ZPM).

As Congress sought a leader for the 2023 revival, Lalthanhawla, then 79, announced "voluntary retirement" in November 2021. Since then, the party has struggled to organize candidates and restructure for the 2023 elections.

"After Lalthanhawla's retirement, there is no one to steer the party to bounce back. The inner conflict among the present leaders was another reason," said Jangkhongam Doungel, a political science professor at Mizoram University. He added that Congress not being in power at the Centre also worked against them.

Rahul Gandhi, Congress leader, campaigned for the polls, targeting both MNF and ZPM as "entry points" for BJP and RSS in the Christian-dominant state. However, ZPM, led by former IPS officer Lalduhoma, secured a historic victory with 27 seats, while MNF won 10, and BJP improved its tally from one in 2018 to two.

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