The CM with a tilak on his forehead
Serchhip, Nov 20 : Mizoram Chief Minister Lal Thanhawla has hit back at the opposition, which has been attacking him for sporting a tilak and charging him with forsaking his religion. "I wiped off the tilak on my forehead after the function, but how are those who took up arms and caused deaths of many innocents to wipe the blood off their hands?" Lal Thanhawla said Tuesday, in an obvious reference to the Mizo National Front, whose members fought a 20-year guerrilla war against the Indian armed forces for a separate Mizo country.
Speaking at a joint platform organised by the Mizoram People's Forum at his bastion Serchhip, Lal Thanhawla said the opposition has resorted to such tactics "because they cannot find any evidence of corruption against me and this is all they have to stand on". Rooting out corruption was the Congress's main plank in 2008, when it won by a landslide with 32 of 40 seats.
At the platform, the five-time chief minister came under attack from other candidates, particularly the Mizoram Democratic Alliance's C Lalramzauva and independent Lalawmpuia Renthlei. The ooposition has been charging the Congress with playing what it calls "Indianisation politics", tapping into the largely Christian Mizos' religious sentiment as well as widespread fears of being swamped by larger ethnic populations.
To this charge, Lal Thanhawla said, "God has sought us Mizos out with his spirit, and why should we, who believe this, fear being swamped? Will God not protect us, those he has found? He will not allow us to be swamped."
In a veiled attack on the CM, who has been targeted for sporting the tilak and taking part in pujas several times on visits outside, the MDA's Lalramzauva said in his speech at the joint platform, "Spiritual people have said these elections are not going to be fought between parties but between forces of good and evil, between believers and nonbelievers."
Renthlei, who is curiously contesting as an independent from the two seats that Lal Thanhawla is contesting (Serchhip and Hrangturzo), said in a speech filled with biblical allusions, "When the giant Goliath threatened the Israelites and the small boy David killed him, how did David do it? Where did he attack the giant?" To which someone from the crowd shouted, "On his forehead!" Renthlei continued, "It is written, 'You cannot drink from the same cup as that of God and of demons'. I ask the MDA and the Zoram Nationalist Party to join me in this fight."
As the audience cheered and hooted, Renthlei took his seat. Immediately after, Lal Thanhawla stood up without waiting for a formal invite from the platform's chairman, as is the norm, and hit back at his opponents.
In his capacity as CM, he said, he spends time with and visits people of all kinds of cultures and religions. "Sometimes I am greeted by half-naked people, sometimes by people wearing exquisite clothes, sometimes by people who bang gongs and sometimes by those who fire guns into the air," he said.
"I ask you, there are those who have paraded idols with 10 hands to protest my sporting a tilak. Are they not trying to use the power of these idols themselves?" he said, referring to an MNF-organised rally in Aizawl earlier this year to protest the CM's sporting of a tilak.