IFP in one of its editorials some time back said that there is no cause for celebrations in Manipur as some did when the Mizoram state assembly election results were announced and the newcomer Zoram Peoples Movement (ZPM) ousted the ‘hated’ Zoramthanga of Mizo National Front (MNF) from power. For Mizo leaders, whichever party they belong to they will always harp on ‘Greater Mizoram’ issue for the benefit of nationalistic Mizo ethos. When Zoramthanga openly spoke and interfered in the internal affairs of neighbouring Manipur, it was no surprise as the state assembly elections were just round the corner.
Somehow, he knew his days were numbered with the upsurge in popularity of ZPM and pushed the Zo unification issue to the limit and the Kukis in Manipur identified themselves with the call of Zo brotherhood. That Zoramthanga himself chose to interfere in the internal affairs of Manipur at a time when the ethnic war at its height was itself in bad taste.
Expressing concern about the ethnic clashes and Kuki-Zo people residing in a neighbouring state and facilitating relief camps for those Kukis who came to Mizoram was okay. But as a chief minister he should not have gone beyond that. However, he played host to Kuki MLAs and other leaders from Manipur, provided a platform for Kuki leaders to reach out to international bodies and even joined a public rally invoking Greater Mizoram.
In fact, he went beyond his brief and joined the hate campaign against the Meiteis, while also stoking the fire. This naturally angered the Meiteis. And when Zoramthanga was ousted, many were openly commenting on it. Some of those in power went to the extent of celebrating Zoramthanga’s defeat which was quite nonsensical exhibiting political immaturity. It was presumptuous of people here to imagine that Zoramthanga was really serious about his commitment to welcoming Kukis of Manipur to the Zo brotherhood. In fact, he was rolling the dice with an eye to the ensuing elections. And it was funny that the Kuki intelligentsia also became ecstatic with Zoramthanga joining the cause with the idea of separate administration and Greater Mizoram.
The new Mizoram Chief Minister Lalduhoma is no different. Lalduhoma, while talking to the media after winning the elections on December 4, said that zero tolerance on state corruption, bringing about financial reforms, balanced development in the state, investigation of corruption cases by the CBI and engaging with the issue of Zo-unification are going to be the main priorities of his party’s government.
Despite these commitments, it would be wrong to presume an interventionist role in the affairs of Manipur on the part of Lalduhoma who has a set of priorities regarding his own state. He would certainly empathise with the Kuki-Zo people in Manipur, but not much as expected. In his recent visit to New Delhi where he met the Prime Minister Narendra Modi his emphasis was the Zo brotherhood cutting across the country’s boundaries and in his media briefing it was all about the Mizos. Yet, we cannot but admire Lalduhoma for putting his thoughts on the Zo brotherhood and reservations on border fencing. Like his predecessors, Lalduhoma also focuses on the dreams of his people of his state while not toeing the line wanted by those in New Delhi unlike other NE Chief Ministers.
(The views expressed are personal)