AIZAWL — After being in political wilderness for two assembly terms, rebel-turned-politician Zoramthanga is back with a bang as he led the Mizo National Front (MNF) to a thumping victory in the state's elections.
Zoramthanga has been chief minister of Mizoram twice. He was a former underground leader and a close aide of the legendary MNF leader Laldenga.
Seventy-four-year-old Zoramthanga joined the underground MNF while waiting for his bachelor's degree in arts at the DM College in Imphal. The MNF, led by Laldenga, declared independence from the Indian Union on 1 March, 1966.
Zoramthanga came to know that he has graduated with English honours while in the jungles with his MNF comrades.
He was appointed secretary to MNF 'president' Laldenga in 1969 and was appointed as vice president of the 'Mizoram government-in-exile' in 1979 as well as the vice president of the MNF party.
He accompanied Laldenga to Pakistan and Europe while the MNF was holding talks with the Indian government and was actively involved in the peace parleys.
Coming out of hiding following the peace accord signed on 30 June, 1986 between the MNF and the Indian government, he was inducted as a minister in the interim government headed by Laldenga for six months.
A group of independent candidates under the MNF umbrella contested for the 40-member Mizoram state legislature for the first time in 1987 Assembly polls, when 24 of them were elected, including Zoramthanga.
He was inducted as cabinet minister holding portfolios like Education and Finance.
Mizoram was placed under President's Rule in the later part of 1988 after defections by some legislators including former underground personnel.
He was re-elected from Champhai seat in 1989 Assembly polls.
After the death of Laldenga due to lung cancer on 7 July 1990, Zoramthanga was elected as the MNF party chief, the post he continues to hold till date.
He contested the state Assembly polls from his home turf — Champhai — in 1993 and won for the third time to become the Leader of the Opposition in the state legislature.
Zoramthanga led the MNF to victory in 1998 state Assembly polls when he won from Champhai and Khawbung seats and formed the government with 21 legislators.
He was inducted as the state chief minister for the first time and completed the full term. He retained power in the 2003 state polls and continued as the chief minister.
Zoramthanga won from Champhai, his home turf, and also from Kolasib constituency on the Mizoram-Assam border, However, he vacated the Kolasib seat.
His party faced a severe debacle in the 2008 polls bagging only three seats while its junior partner, the Maraland Democratic Party (MDF) won one seat. Zoramthanga lost from both Champhai North and Champhai South constituencies.
The Mizoram People's Conference (MPC) and the Zoram Nationalist Party (ZNP) both secured two seats each The opposition Congress bagged 32 seats with former chief minister Lal Thanhawla bouncing back to power and won from two seats — Serchhip and South Tuipui.
Zoramthanga continued to be in the political wilderness as he again lost from East Tuipui and the Congress retained power with 34 legislators in the 40-member state legislature.
This time around, he contested from the prestigious Aizawl East-I seat and defeated journalist-turned politician K Sapdanga by 2504 votes. Congress's K Vanlalrawna came third.
Sapdanga is the editor and publisher of the largest circulated vernacular daily — Vanglaini.
For Zoramthanga, this poll verdict was a do-or-die situation where losing the electoral battle this year would have meant the last nail in his political coffin and survival of his MNF party while winning would have meant revival for not only him, but also for the erstwhile underground party.
Zoramthanga would be sworn-in as the chief minister of Mizoram at the Raj Bhavan at 12 noon on Saturday.