Mizoram: After 39 years of chequered political career, Lalduhoma takes the saddle
If Abraham Lincoln's journey from a proverbial log cabin to the White House is a powerful symbol of one's political ambition, Lalduhoma's journey from being part of the security detail at the Prime Minister's Office in Delhi to the Chief Minister's chair is no less inspiring.
The 74-year-old leader of Mizoram's youngest political party, Zoram People's Movement (ZPM), was born on February 22, 1949, in a small village called Tualpui in Champhai district. He graduated from GM High School, where the outgoing chief minister Zoramthanga was also educated.
Lalduhoma cracked the UPSC exams and joined IPS, while he worked as a personal assistant to the first Mizoram chief minister Ch Chhunga.
Playing a peace envoy
However, he gave up his IPS job to make politics his calling when he was still on Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s security detail. These were the times when Mizoram was coming back to normalcy after being plagued by insurgency since 1966. Lalduhoma, who was then instrumental in brokering peace between the Indian government and then outlawed Mizo National Front, claimed he entered politics at the behest of Mrs Indira Gandhi.
It was Lalduhoma who travelled to London where Laldenga was in exile to tape record a message in which Laldenga urged the people of Mizoram to vote for the Congress for peace in Mizoram. The breakthrough in peace was attributed to the Congress landslide victory in the 1984 elections in Mizoram.
The first MP to be disqualified
Lalduhoma’s political journey has been long and tumultuous. After he joined the Congress party, he was elected uncontested (no one else in the fray) to the Lok Sabha in 1984 only to be disqualified under the Anti-Defection Law. He was the first Member of Parliament to be disqualified for voting against Congress party’s whip.
After his ouster from the Congress party, he floated his own political outfit called Mizo National Union in the mid-1980s. He later merged his party with Brig T Sailo-led People’s Conference (PC) to form the Democratic Party (DP).
But the Democratic Party lost the next election, after which Lalduhoma joined the Mizo National Front (MNF) in the mid-1990s. MNF badly needed an able leader following the death of its founder Laldenga in 1990.
Ouster from Mizo National Front
He soon began to call the shot but his efforts to wrest control of the MNF came to a naught when Laldenga loyalists nominated vice-president Zoramthanga for the top party job. This led to a split in the party as he formed MNF (Nationalist) in the late 1990s, which was later rechristened Zoram Nationalist Party (ZNP).
Lalduhoma managed to keep his outfit alive till it merged with other smaller parties to form the Zoram People's Movement, which has now emerged as the formidable third force that brought the bipolar politics in Mizoram to an end.
Lalduhoma got elected as MLA for the first time in 2003 from the erstwhile Ratu constituency. He and Andrew Lalherliana won the election to enable ZNP to participate in the state assembly for the first time.
The ZNP managed to retain the two-MLA position in the state assembly after the 2008 state assembly polls.
The first MLA to be disqualified
As ZPM's chief ministerial candidate, Lalduhoma contested two seats in the 2018 elections, from Serchhip and Aizawl East-I, his home turf. He, however, vacated his home constituency for Serchhip.
In 2021, Lalduhoma became the first MLA from Mizoram to be disqualified under the Anti-Incumbency Law. The reason for his disqualification was that he was elected as an independent but functioned as a ZPM MLA, though ZPM was not a registered party then. He got re-elected in a by-election with a much bigger margin, garnering more votes than other candidates combined could manage.
After 39 years of a chequered political career, Lalduhoma is on the cusp of realising a lifelong dream of becoming the chief minister of Mizoram. Out of the 40 seats, his party has won 27, giving ZPM a thumping majority in the assembly.
Though Lalduhoma consistently topped the people’s choice in the 'favorite chief minister' polls in Mizoram for the past several elections, yet he could not make it to the high chair.