Serchhip (Mizoram), Nov 20 :
Ziona, the head of family, has 38 wives, 32 sons, 18 daughters, 22 grandsons, 26 granddaughters and seven great grand children and all live under one roof. The largest family in the world is the star attraction in Mizoram and the mega family will be voting for a new government in the north-eastern state on November 25.
The family has 162 members out of which 98 are eligible to vote and they are attracting political parties.
Ziona, the head of family, has 38 wives, 32 sons, 18 daughters, 22 grandsons, 26 granddaughters and seven great grand children and all live under one roof.
With one the biggest houses in Serchhip district and Tuikum Assembly constituency located in the mountainous state sandwiched between Bangladesh and Myanmar, the family enjoys enormous respect and is the centre of attraction in the region.
Zaupuia, the grandson of Ziona, is proud to be a member of the most sought-after family in the state.
"My house's name is Chuenta Roon, which means house of the new generation. Our family consists of 162 members; my grandfather has 38 wives, 32 sons and 18 daughters," he said.
"There are a lot of grandchildren and I'm the grandson of Ziona. During elections, politicians receive 98 votes from our family. I'm yet to decide whom to vote for."
Managing a huge family like this is not easy. The family consumes 30 kilograms of rice for one meal of the day.
Most of the family members are carpenters and the rest take care of pig and poultry farms.
The family members share a cordial relationship and work is properly divided.
If seven wives cook, then the rest take care of the clothes and children. The seniors in the family are given adequate rest according to the age.
"We tend to face management problems since we're a large family. But if my baby is crying, others are always there to lend a helping hand," says Ramnandagi, the daughter of Ziona.
Congress, the leading political party in Mizoram, knows the importance of the highest number of voters in the village and hence is trying to woo them again.
Zasanga, the executive member of Mizoram Pradesh Congress Committee, is confident of getting the support of the family.
"They are our people, our citizens. So naturally they should come and cast their vote. The government has done good things for them. Like other citizens, they are being well-looked after and well-fed. Therefore we are looking forward to their support."
I have visited the huge family. They're a happy lot and nearly constitute one village. They are a religious group of people. Everything is controlled by the MPF i.e. Mizo People Forum."
Of the 40 Assembly seats, the Congress won 32 seats, Mizo National Front (MNF) three, and Maraland Democratic Front one in the last Assembly elections in December 2008.
The United Democratic Alliance's constituents - Mizoram People's Conference and Zoram Nationalist Party - got two seats each.
The Mizoram National Front, which ruled the state for 10 years till 2008, is the principal opposition party.
But the control is not with parties. It is with the churches. Almost 90 per cent of 10 lakh people in Mizoram are literate. Christianity being the main religion of the state, it is church bodies that are the deciding factors in the elections.
Mizo Peoples Forum, with more around six lakh followers, will be the deciding factor in this election.
"There are more than 50 churches and a lot of NGOs. The objective of the MPF is to ensure clean, fair and free election in Mizoram. In order to achieve this, we are working together with the Election Commission and the parties. We have signed an agreement with Mizo parties to work together to achieve our target," says Lairamliana Pachuau, president of Mizo Peoples Forum.
"We also wish to reduce the amount of money spent on election campaigns and therefore we are coordinating with the Election Commission. We also disseminated the election code of conduct. Apart from this, we organise joint platforms for candidates bringing in all parties."
The poll panel has fixed Rs.8 lakh as the maximum limit for election expenses to be incurred by individual candidates during polls and it will be monitored closely.
However, issues for the Assembly polls in Mizoram are no different from the rest of the country.
The locals however have concerns, says Ronalso Maiya.
"As localities, we look forward for a government that will be for the people and not for itself. We are waiting for someone to help eradicate corruption that has become synonymous with most political parties and help the poorest of the poor in the villages. We are hoping for a clean and a fair election this time.
The MPF was organised by our elders and therefore they play an important role in providing guidance to political parties in the right way and prevent them from misusing their powers," Maiya said.
The Congress, losing ground in the mainland, is however hoping to register a win in the polls and no wonder they are targeting the families that may make a difference.