Mizoram is a state in Northeast India, with Aizawl as its capital city. Within the northeast region, it is the southernmost landlocked state, sharing borders with three of the Seven Sister States, namely Tripura, Assam and Manipur. The state also shares a 722 kilometre border with the neighbouring countries of Bangladesh and Myanmar. The Congress government presently rules the state.
Mizoram's population was 1,091,014, according to a 2011 census. It is the 2nd least populous state in the country. The sex proportion is 976 females for each 1000 males, higher when contrasted with the national average of 940. Around 52% of its population lives in urban zones, considerably higher than India’s average. Over 33% of the people in Mizoram live in Aizawl territory, which has the capital.
As many as 768,181 persons have been registered as voters ahead of the Mizoram Assembly elections, to be held on November 28.
Women outnumber men in Mizoram's electoral rolls. Of the total 768,181 voters, as many as 393,685 are women and 374,496 men.
Mizoram is a highly literate agrarian economy, with a literacy rate of 91.58%. Central Mizoram's Serchhip district has the highest literacy rate of 97.91 per cent followed by Aizawl district at 97.89 per cent. Southernmost Lawngtlai district has lowest rate at 65.88 per cent followed by Mamit district on the Mizoram-Bangladesh-Tripura border and south Mizoram's Lunglei district at 84.93 per cent and 88.86 per cent respectively.
Mizoram is a land of rolling hills, valleys, rivers and lakes. As many as 21 major hill ranges or peaks of different heights run through the length and breadth of the state, with plains scattered here and there. The average height of the hills to the west of the state are about 1,000 meters (3,300 ft). These gradually rise up to 1,300 meters (4,300 ft) to the east. Some areas, however, have higher ranges which go up to a height of over 2,000 meters (6,600 ft). Phawngpui Tlang also known as the Blue Mountain, situated in the south-eastern part of the state, is the highest peak in Mizoram at 2,210 meters (7,250 ft). About 76% of the state is covered by forests, 8% is fallows land, 3% is barren and considered uncultivable area, while cultivable and sown area constitutes the rest. As per state of forest report 2015 states with maximum forest cover as percentage of their own geographical area. Mizoram being the highest 88.93% Forest.
Like the Assam election in 2016, the Mizoram election in 2018 may see illegal immigration from neighbouring countries such as Myanmar, Bangladesh and Nepal become one of the most important issues. PTI reported in October 2017 that the state unit of BJP urged the Congress government in the state to detect and deport foreigners who have illegally entered the state from neighbouring countries. In December, a conglomerate of major civil societies and student associations of Mizoram urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to ensure that all illegal immigrants, especially Chakmas from Bangladesh, are deported.
Infrastructure development will also likely be a key issue. During a public meeting in Aizawl in December, Modi said that the development of the Rih-Tiddim road and establishment of various rural ‘haat’ (flee markets) along the Mizoram-Myanmar will increase the volume of trade state. Modi had also said that the Centre launched the North East Special Infrastructure Scheme (NESIS) to fill in the gaps in basic facilities.
Unemployment is also one of the biggest problem. According to Indiaspend, the rapid development is not creating enough jobs and livelihood. Poverty is also an issue, with 20.40 percent of the population living below the poverty line in 2011-12. The two main reasons for poverty in the state are under-developed agriculture and unskilled labour. Tribals practise traditional and unscientific ‘jhum’ or slash-and-burn method of cultivation, in which land is cleared and vegetation burned to make way for new cultivable land.
The Bru refugee issue also continues to haunt the government. Its decision to undertake the physical repatriation of over 32,000 Brus lodged in six relief camps in North Tripura district from the second week of February could not take off due to legal reasons.
Officials who conducted the identification in the Tripura camps last year identified 32,857 people from 5,413 families as bona fide residents of Mizoram and for physical repatriation. However, the Supreme Court instructed the Mizoram government to not go ahead with the proposed repatriation process.
The Brus have been lodged in the camps since 1997 following exodus from Mizoram due to communal tension triggered by the murder of a forest official by Bru militants.
The most important political leader in Mizoram is undoubtedly Chief Minister Lal Thanhawla. The 79-year-old Congress leader has been Mizoram chief minister five times. He landed himself in controversy in November after failing to provide information about owning land in Kolkata.
A Congress leader who sparked controversy and could impact the election significantly is Lalrobiaka, whose assets grew by a whopping 2,406 percent in just five years.
Another important leader is Leader of Opposition in Mizoram Vanlalzawma, the MNF leader. It will also be interesting to see whether BJP can make a significant mark in the 2018 Mizoram election.
But perhaps the most important players in the upcoming election will be the new political parties and alliances, which could make all the difference in the results.
With elections to the 40-member Assembly due by the end of next year, political alliances were forged while new political parties emerged during the year.
A new group called Zoram Exodus Movement (ZEM), formed by retired priests, retired government officials and senior journalists, announced an alliance with the Zoram Nationalist Party (ZN) and the Mizoram People’s Conference (MPC) under the banner of Zoram People’s Movement (ZPM).
Anti-corruption watchdog People’s Right to Information and Development Implementation Society of Mizoram (PRISM) converted itself into a political party as People’s Representation for Identity and Status of Mizoram and retained its abbreviated form: PRISM.
The Maraland Democratic Front (MDF), earlier an ally of the Opposition Mizo National Front (MNF), merged with the BJP on 25 October along with its two members of district council (MDCs) in the Mara Autonomous District Council.
In the last state election in 2013, Congress won 34 out of 40 seats in the Assembly while the MNF won only five. In 2008, Congress mopped up 32 seats, while the MNF and MPC won 3 and 2 seats respectively.