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Mizoram’s new Chief Minister ZPM President Lalduhoma

New Mizoram Chief Minister Lalduhoma Also Pledges Unification of Zo Tribes Under One Administration

In celebrating the victory of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the recent Assembly elections in three States – Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh – Manipur Chief Minister Nongthombam Biren, without naming any party in particular, on December 3 at Manipur BJP Office, Thambal Shanglen at Nityaipat Chuthek in Imphal said that the party at Mizoram which was quite vocal about the violence in Manipur will suffer defeat in the Assembly elections the result of which will be declared tomorrow (December 4).

The ministers, MLAs, party leaders and members who were participating in the celebration were very blissful at the remarks of Manipur Chief Minister. Many who follow them also show their blissful at the remarks of the Chief Minister and even took to social media pages.

Chief Minister Nongthombam Biren was very happy and confident. He said that the BJP will secure all the Parliamentary seats in Manipur in the 2024 elections and help Prime Minister Narendra Modi led Government retain power at the Centre for the third consecutive term.

Expectedly, on December 4 when the Mizoram Legislative Assembly election result was out, not only Chief Minister Zoramthanga loss his seat but also the strenght of his party, Mizo National Front (MNF) is reduced to 10 MLAs in the 40-Member State Legislative Assembly from 28 MLAs in 2018.

Many people who can see only on the surface are very happy and expressed through social media on the loss of Zoramthanga. It is quite obvious why they are so happy.

Zoramthanga, while he was Chief Minister of Mizoram, who is also President of MNF, recently said that since May 3, a series of unfortunate and deplorable incidents in Manipur have deeply aggrieved the entire Mizo society.

Following the Manipur violence that erupted on May 3, 10 Kuki MLAs, including seven BJP MLAs, two Kuki People’s Alliance (KPA) and one Independent MLA demanded a Separate Administration in Manipur. Several Kuki organisations also are pressing for Separate Administration for Kuki-Zomi tribes in Manipur.

Zoramthanga openly support the demand of the 10 Kuki MLAs and Kuki organisations in Manipur for a Separate Administration.

Zoramthanga even said the state government also took up relief and rehabilitation measures immediately for the internally displaced people from Manipur who sought shelter in Mizoram. He said the State government spent more than ₹36 lakh to airlift and evacuate 264 residents of Mizoram.

The Mizoram government had sought ₹10 crore from the Centre as humanitarian assistance to provide relief to the dispalced people who are seeking refuge in Mizoram, but the Central government sanctioned only Rs 3 crore.

MNF is an ally of NDA. However, MNF Lok Sabha member from Mizoram, C. Lalrosanga supported the opposition’s no-confidence motion as the party is dissatisfied with the Centre’s handling of the Manipur issue.

Notably, Zoramthanga on May 19 stated that the State government cannot directly interfere in the internal affairs of neighbouring Manipur.

However, Zoramthanga, while addressing party workers at Hnam Run (MNF party office) recently, said that Mizo brothers and sisters in Manipur should make a move in accordance with the Article 3 of the Constitution rather than imposing on them. “The ethnic Mizo brothers in Manipur are now demanding a Separate Administration, which is paving the way for achieving re-unification”.

Clearing its stand on the Greater Mizoram or unification of contiguous areas of Manipur, Zoramthanga said, “Unification of ‘Zo’ tribe-inhabited areas of Myanmar and Bangladesh would be difficult at this time; unification of the ethnic Mizo areas living in Indian states of Manipur, Assam, and Tripura had been proposed by the MNF all the time. The issue of unification of all the inhabited areas of our kindred brothers in neighbouring states featured in the peace talks held with the Indian government and the erstwhile underground MNF.”

MNF emerged from the Mizo National Famine Front (MNFF) led by Laldenga, a platform that protested the inaction of the Center during the 1959 famine in the then Lushai Hills district of Assam. The Front was led by Laldenga, which staged a militant uprising in 1966 and, for several years, carried out underground activities. Peace returned to Mizoram following the signing of the Mizo accord in 1986 under Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.

Chief Minister Zoramthanga said that the Centre then maintained that it could be done under Article 3 of the Constitution of India.

Without adding the recent influx, around 35,000 people from Myanmar have taken refuge in Mizoram since the military coup in February 2021. Another 1,000 people from the Chittagong Hill Tracts of Bangladesh had also come to Mizoram.

MNF has maintained that Myanmar areas bordering Mizoram are inhabited by Chin communities who are ethnically Mizo brethren, and they have been having close contacts throughout all these years, even before India became independent. Therefore, Mizoram cannot just remain indifferent to their sufferings today. India cannot turn a blind eye to this humanitarian crisis unfolding right in front of us in our own backyard, the MNF said.

The MNF, in its manifesto, has promised to unite the Zofa, or people belonging to Zo community – under one administration if it forms a government for the second straight term. The manifesto promised that Zofas or Zohnahthlaks, scattered in various countries, will be united under one government with “higher authority” in accordance with the UN’s 2007 Declaration on the Rights of the Indigenous People.

Notably, Zo unification means bringing all ethnic communities – Mizos of Mizoram, Kuki-Zomis of Manipur, Chins of Myanmar, and Bangladesh – under one administrative umbrella. They claim that the hill areas of Manipur, adjoining Mizoram, are inhabited by the ‘Zo’ community who share the same culture, religion, tradition, and ancestry.

Around 13,000 people from Kuki-Zo community have taken shelter in Mizoram following ethnic violence in Manipur. The majority of those who have reached Mizoram are considered belonging to the Chin community, also known as the Zo community, who share ancestry, ethnicity, and culture with the Mizos of Mizoram.

Nevertheless, Zoram People’s Movement (ZPM) President, Lalduhoma who was sworn-in as new Chief Minister of Mizoram on December 8 in Aizawl is no less for the cause of Zo unification.

In this year’s Legislative Assembly election, the MNF had leaned heavily on Mizo nationalism and Greater Mizoram and was expecting electoral dividends from the support it extended to the Chin refugees from Myanmar and the Kuki-Zomi refugees from Manipur (both of the same ethnicity as Mizos) who are not voters.

Remarkably, the ZPM had sent out clear signals that it did not differ with the MNF on this issue – Lalduhoma has in the past spoken in favour of the unification of Zo territory. By doing so the ZPM emphasised that Mizo nationalism is not the exclusive domain of the MNF. In fact, the ZPM positioned itself as the only authentic regional voice, accusing the MNF of losing its regional identity by being part of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA).

The Zoram People’s Movement (ZPM), a political party in Mizoram, which commands 27 seats in the 40-member new State Legislative Assembly of Mizoram, too espouses the cause of Zo unity. ZPM president Lalduhoma said, “Our vision is that there will be a day when all the Zo people are put under one administrative unit-this is our mission. This is possible under Article 3 of the Indian Constitution.”

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