Mizoram has been peaceful ever since it became a full-fledged state of India in 1987 after the Peace Accord between the Mizo National Front (MNF) and the Indian government. The state has come a long way over the years in all spheres — from education to economy to sports — a perfect manifestation of what “peace” can actually do. But political drama has begun in this otherwise peaceful state with the 40-seat legislative assembly elections scheduled to take place later this month. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which has managed to make its presence felt in all the Northeastern states except in Mizoram, is trying to end the decade-long rule of the Indian National Congress. The fierce campaign leading up to the ultimate battle has been marred by the bureaucratic tussle between the state government and chief electoral officer SB Shashank, which has not gone down well with the public.
All hell broke loose in the poll-bound Mizoram when principal secretary at the state home department Lalnunmawia Chuaungo was transferred and barred from duties till the polls are over after Shashank reportedly wrote a letter to the Election Commission claiming that the latter was interfering with the poll process by objecting the move to facilitate the Bru refugees to vote in the upcoming elections from Tripura. This unprecedented scenario resulted in state-wide peaceful mass protests with the public demanding the resignation of Shashank and demonstrating against the removal of Chuango.
Tuesday’s protest was note-worthy for atleast one reason — mass participation. People cutting across professions and political affiliation took to the streets not in support of the Congress or BJP or any other party but to fight for justice and stand for what is right. Chief Minister Lal Thanhawla wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to remove the CEO; government employees threatened not to co-operate during the elections if Shashank was not shown the doors; while the Mizo Journalists Association (MJA) expressed its disappointment by boycotting his press conference on Monday. Mizos have sent a message to the world, loud and clear that they would not allow anybody to be punished without a valid reason. Other Indian states, especially Nagaland, that preach “fair elections” ahead of the polls but end up in the pool of dirty politics and corruption can learn a lesson or two from Mizoram.