Lalduhoma, a former IPS officer with an extensive and illustrious public career, is on the verge of becoming the next Chief Minister of Mizoram. Winning his election from the Sercchip constituency by a margin of 2,982 votes, the 73-year-old is set to be the first new leader of the state in 30 years.
The Zoram People's Movement (ZPM), a newly formed regional party led by Lalduhoma, achieved a remarkable victory in the Assembly elections, marking its first run as a recognised party.
The ZPM secured 27 constituencies and leads in 12, signaling a potential end to the longstanding Congress-Mizo National Front (MNF) duopoly in the state. This would be a historic shift, as it would be the first time a party other than the Congress or the MNF has come into power since the state was established in 1987.
Until now, the position of chief minister has alternately been held by Lalthanhawla of the Congress and Zoramthanga of the MNF since 1989. Lalduhoma, the chief ministerial candidate for ZPM, is highly likely to be the upcoming Chief Minister of Mizoram.
Lalduhoma, a graduate of North East Hill University, embarked on his career with the Indian Police Service after receiving his BA degree. He ascended the ranks to become the security head for former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.
In 1984, he resigned from his service to join the Congress, subsequently winning a seat in the Lok Sabha that same year. However, in 1988, he made history as the first MP to face disqualification under the anti-defection law due to his resignation from the Congress.
Before establishing the ZPM, Lalduhoma had been elected as an MLA in 2003 under the banner of the Zoram Nationalist Party, a party he himself founded.
Initiated as a shared platform for six minor regional parties and civil society groups in 2017, the ZPM was not yet officially recognized during the 2018 Assembly elections. Rather, the platform supported 38 Independent candidates, eight of whom were elected as MLAs, making it the second-largest party in the Assembly. It wasn't until 2019 that the ZPM gained official recognition as a party.
Lalduhoma's victory in the 2021 Serchhip by-election marked the arrival of the ZPM, following his disqualification from the Assembly due to his "defection" to the ZPM after being initially elected as an Independent. This win solidified his standing in the state's political scene.
During the lead-up to the elections, both the ZPM and Lalduhoma heavily relied on years of anti-incumbency against the Congress and the MNF. They criticised the MNF for losing its regional identity by aligning with the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance.
Similar to the MNF, the ZPM too underscores the Mizo identity, and Lalduhoma has previously advocated for the consolidation of all regions inhabited by the Zo ethnic group, which encompasses the Kuki-Zomis of Manipur.
Nishtha Anushree is Senior Sub-editor at Swarajya. She tweets at @nishthaanushree.
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