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Lalthanhawla takes on Mizoram CM on his turf

G Vinayak in Aizawl | November 13, 2003 04:34 IST

Three-time chief minister Lalthanhawla will take on present incumbent Chief Minister Zoramthanga in a direct contest in Champai constituency during the November 20 assembly elections in Mizoram.

Lalthanhawla is a towering personality in state politics not the least because he had stepped down mid-way through his first term as chief minister in 1987 to make way for the Mizo National Front in the wake of an accord that the then militant outfit had signed with then prime minister Rajiv Gandhi to end 20 years of insurgency.

Even today, people have not forgotten Lalthanhawla's gesture since it paved the way for ushering in peace in the Northeastern state of 900,000 people. Whether it will be get him enough seats in the 40-member assembly remains to be seen.

He was chief minister for two consecutive terms between 1989 and 1998 before being ousted by Zoramthanga of the MNF. Lalthanhawla now leads the Congress campaign to dislodge the MNF from power.

One blot in his career has been the charge sheet filed against him in October 2003 by a lower court in a case that was filed three years ago. He is accused of cheating the state exchequer in collusion with some businessmen.

However, the veteran politician is unperturbed.

"It is only an attempt by my political rivals to deny me the right to fight these polls and stop the Congress from coming back to power. There will be no more talk of this corruption case once we are back in power. I have immense faith in the Indian judicial system," he said.

Lalthanhawla must be aware of the enormity of the immediate task at hand as Champai has elected Zoramthanga thrice in succession.

To be on the safe side, both have filed papers from alternative seats - Lalthanhawla in his home town Serchip while Zoramthanga has chosen Kolasib.

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