By Zodin Sanga
Though the economy of Mizoram runs on the labour of its women, there has been precious little by way of their representation in the Assembly in the past 25 years. This term promises to be no different. Of the 139 candidates contesting the Assembly polls, only a measly four are women. That’s five less than the number in 2008.
B Sangkhumi, an independent candidate and one of the most prominent figures in Mizo society, says she was offered a ticket by the principal Opposition party, the Mizo National Front (MNF), but decided to go to polls on her own.
The former president of Mizo Hmeichhe Insuihkhawm Pawl (MHIP), a not-for-profit organisation, will contest the 25 November polls from the Champhai South seat. She will be pitted against Congress MLA JH Rothuama, Lalneihthanga of the Zoram Nationalist Party (ZNP) and Rosiamngheta of the Mizoram Democratic Alliance (MDA).
Despite her refusal to fight on an MNF ticket — which she attributes to complications in ticket distribution — Sangkhumi claims to have the support of at least 24 of the total 35 MNF units in the constituency. “My ultimate goal is to ensure women’s representation in the Assembly, which has been nil in the past 25 years,” says Sangkhumi. “This is why I entered politics.” The irony in her statement can’t be missed.
The Congress has nominated only one woman, Pradesh Mahila Congress President TBC Tlangthanmawii, for the polls.
Similarly, the MDA — a combine of the MNF, the Mizoram People’s Conference (MPC) and the Maraland Democratic Front (MDF) — has fielded only one woman candidate among the three parties: Lalmalsawmi, an Aizawl municipal councillor.
The fourth woman candidate is Zoramchhani of the BJP, who will contest from the Lengteng seat.
After becoming a union territory in 1972 (and then acquiring statehood in 1986), Mizoram has had only three women MLAs — Thanmawii (1978), K Thansiami (1979) and Lalhlimpuii (1987).
For a state where women outnumber men by 12,707 votes in a total electorate of 3,86,305 voters, that is a shameful statistic indeed.
Zodin Sanga is an independent journalist based in Aizawl