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Mizoram polls see significant upstick in women’s representation

Aizawl: Upcoming election to the 40-member Mizoram Legislative Assembly is witnessing high representation of women with 16 female candidates in the fray out of total 174 candidates even as the BJP was compelled to drop one woman candidate due to pressure from a student body.

There were 18 women nominees among the 209 candidates in the last state assembly election held in 2018. In the last election, political parties like the National People’s Party (NPP) led by Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma, Sharad Pawar’s Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and local party called PRISM fielded candidates including a number of women in a number of seats.

In the coming state assembly polls, the ruling Mizo National Front (MNF), the Zoram People’s Movement (ZPM) and the Congress, which contested all the 40 seats, have 2 women candidates each.

The BJP has 4 female nominees, but was compelled to drop one of them due to pressure from the Mizo Zirlai Pawl (MZP) or Mizo students’ federation, as she is married to an Anglo-Indian. She has been replaced by a male candidate to contest Tuivawl assembly seat.

Mizoram Pradesh Congress Committee (MPCC), however, refused to buckle under the student organisation’s diktat and announced that one of the 2 women candidates, who married a local Gorkha will contest the coming polls. Another candidate of the MPCC is Vanlalawmpuii Chawngthu, the lone former woman minister to run again this time.

There are seven women candidates who will contest the coming polls as independent nominees. Of them, Lalruatfeli Hlawndo, daughter of Rev. Dr. Zaichhawna Hlawndo, founder leader of the ‘Lalpa Chhiahhlawh Intelkhawm’ or group of God’s servants, is contesting from two seats – Aizawl North-I and Aizawl East-I.

Self-proclaimed prophet Lalhmachhuani is one of the women candidates who formed a group to contest the coming election. She formed a group called ‘Zo Re-Unification Movement’ but the group does not field any other candidates besides her. 

Lalhmachhuani claimed that she was instructed by God to contest the polls and the assembly seat from where she is to run and using trumpet as her election symbol. She is contesting in Aizawl East-2 seat in a five-cornered contest where another woman candidate – B. Lalawmpuii of the MNF is also in the fray. 

As Mizos are strictly patriarchal society, women have hardly any voice in politics and even in the church. Presbyterian Church Mizoram Synod continued to refuge ordination of women as pastors even if they achieve master degrees in theology and even church elders. 

Saptawni was elected as a church leader by the local Mission Veng church over 50 years ago, but the Mizoram Synod refused to ordain her even as she was the wife of a prominent pastor Rev. Liangkhaia.

Baptist Church of Mizoram, the second largest church denomination, ordained Dr. R.L. Hnuni, a prominent scholar of theology but refused to have a pastoral.

In politics, a few women were nominated in the assembly when Mizoram was union territory. The first woman to be elected in the legislature was L. Thanmawii in 1978 on People’s Conference ticket.

Lalhlimpuii Hmar was elected in 1987 and became the first ever Minister in the state under Chief Minister Laldenga, the second and last woman minister was Vanlalawmpuii Chawngthu, who was elected in the by-election from Hrangturzo seat in 2017. 

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