“The issue (Mizo nationalism) was always there as it is the issue of our own identity. No one can ever compromise with his or her identity, or the identity of his community which is at stake,” said F Aithanga, senior leader of the Mizo National Front (MNF), which leads the Mizoram Democratic Alliance (MDA).
“Our main aim is the development of the economic conditions for the Mizos and protection of their identity,” Aithanga said.
Observers here feel that unemployment and backwardness, almost three decades after the creation of Mizoram, has provided the MNF with the opportunity to the issue of nationalism and economic sovereignty.
The ruling Congress, on the other hand, feels that bringing up the issue of Mizo nationalism is futile.
“The MNF is trying to misguide the masses. It is talking of Mizo nationalism, but the fact is that its members themselves had surrendered in 1986 due to infighting in their own ranks. When the surrender took place, only a handful of people turned out,” campaign head of the Mizoram Pradesh Congress Committee (MPCC) David M Thangliana said.
The MNF rubbished Congress’ claims and said the surrender was in order to keep the movement over ground.
The MDA is also trying to revive the sentiments of the people on its other demands for economic sovereignty.
Another poll issue involves photographs of Chief Minister Lal Thanhawla that show him with a tilak and attending pujas. After it appeared in a local newspaper, the MDA
accused him and the Congress of hurting the sentiments of the Christian-dominant Mizoram society.
It even took out processions here to protest the chief minister’s alleged practice of another religion.
Lal Thanhawla’s comment that even Christian pastors wore tilaks when they go outside the state triggered a controversy and the powerful Presbyter Church condemned it.
“The tilak issue and the chief minister’s statement have created some confusion. But we don’t think that the MNF will be able to encash on it as much as they are hoping to,” said David M Thangliana, campaign head of the MPCC.
The issue of Congress’ New Land Use Policy (NLUP) and the proposed Special Economic Development Program (SEPD) of the MDA also figured during campaign.
The main aim of the NLUP was to develop and give all farmers in the state suitable, permanent and stable trades.