No anti-incumbency, people very happy under Cong rule: Mizoram CM
Asserting there is no anti-incumbency, Lal Thanhawla, the longest-serving Chief Minister of Mizoram, is banking on good governance and development to retain the Congress last bastion in the northeast.
Confident of victory and retaining power for a third consecutive term, he is sure of keeping the BJP at bay which rules six of the seven northeastern states either alone or in alliance.
"The BJP's communal and divisive politics will not cut ice with the people of Mizoram. They are witnessing the destruction under the saffron rule in the neighbouring states and do not want to replicate that model of governance," Lal Thanhawla, Chief Minister since 2008, told IANS in an interview.
"There is no anti-incumbency, people here very happy under the Congress rule. Mizoram is among the fastest growing states in the country with the state GDP higher than the national level. There is infrastructure, there are jobs, and Mizoram is the only state in northeast where there is peace. Why would people want to disturb that peace," he asked.
Ridiculing Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah for their "rhetoric" of development, the Congress veteran said his government's New Land Use Programme (NLUP) and New Economic Development Policy (NEDP) have made the people of Mizoram realise what development really means.
"People in India have only heard Modi and Shah talking about development but people in Mizoram know what actually development and prosperity look like," he said adding that Mizoram ranked first among the small states and second among all states in health index prepared by the World Bank Group and NITI Aayog.
"We are an absolute Christian majority state, and naturally when our festivals are disturbed it disturbs the people. This has been done intentionally otherwise. Why would they choose Christmas as Good Governance Day. Will they declare Dusshera for some day like that," he asked.
Even as he rules BJP out of contention, Lal Thanhawla expressed apprehension over the saffron party's "money power" .
"The entire country is aware how the BJP has come to power in north east using money power. They are flush with funds and pumping a lot of money with a view to purchase people. The battle is between money power and good governance and development and people here are sensible enough to know what is better for them," he said.
He also countered the opposition Mizo National Front's (MNF) persistent attack on his government over the decision to lift the over two-decade old ban on sale and consumption of alcohol.
"The ban was an absolute failure, it only lead to a thriving black market and people dying due to spurious liquor. The idea of creating an alcohol-free society through the prohibition was completely defeated and hence we had to lift it and bring in the permit system," he said.
Besides the BJP, the Congress also faces a tough challenge from the MNF and other regional parties.
But the Congress veteran says it's the work done by his government that is speaking for itself and asserts that his party will retain power in the state with absolute majority.
"Be it the MNF or the BJP, they have no answer to the prosperity that we have brought in the state. Their divisive and communal agenda is there for all to see. As I said, people of Mizoram are not willing the disturb the peace and prosperity that prevails. Anti-incumbency is only in the words of the opposition not in the minds of the voters," he said asserting the Congress will win 37 seats -- three more than it got in 2013.
In the predominantly-Christian state, the Congress has been in power since it became a full-fledged state in 1987, except for 10 years between 1998 to 2008.
Elections to the 40-member Assembly will be held on November 28. An electorate in excess of 7.6 lakh, including nearly 4 lakh women, are eligible to vote to decide the fate of 209 candidates.
The results will be declared on December 11.
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(With inputs from agencies.)