With No Women Legislators, Mizoram Buckles Up For Assembly Elections

Since it attained statehood, women have made for only 4% of all candidates who have contested in Mizoram’s electoral history

On November 7, Mizoram will vote to elect a new legislature. It is one of the few states  in India to have no women MLAs in its last assembly. In fact, it has not elected a woman MLA since 2014.  

Only 16 (9%) of the 174 candidates contesting the current elections are women and the odds are stacked against them. Mizoram has had only 4 women MLAs in its entire history. 

Since Mizoram acquired full fledged statehood in 1987, it has only elected two women MLAs – in 1987 and 2014. In 1987, C Lalhlimpuii contested as an independent candidate and became the state’s first woman legislator. Then, for 27 years, the electorate did not elect another woman.

In this atmosphere of gender bias, a new political kerfuffle has emerged in the state. The student body, Mizo Zirlai Pawl (MZP), has urged political parties to not nominate any Mizo woman married to a non-Mizo or a non-tribal and has been agitating across the state on the issue. The MZP spokesman Ricky Lalbiakmawia has said that the aim is to see that such women are not elected. “We are committed to preserving Mizo culture and identity besides the customary law,” he said.

However, the Congress has defied the MZP’s diktat and fielded Meriam L Hrangchal, who is married to a Gorkha, for the Lunglei South assembly constituency.

In the 2023 elections, the three prominent parties in the state – the Mizo National Front (MNF), Zoram People’s Movement (ZPM), and the Indian National Congress (INC) – have nominated candidates in all 40 constituencies. The BJP, which had contested 39 seats in the 2018 assembly elections, is now contesting only in 23. The Aam Aadmi Party is all set to make its electoral debut in the state, has fielded candidates in four constituencies. There are 27 contestants participating in the election as independent candidates.

Of the 16 women candidates contesting the upcoming Assembly elections, three have been fielded by BJP, and two each by MNF, Congress, and Zoram People’s Party. The remaining seven are contesting as independent candidates.

Source: Election Commission of India

How Women Candidates Have Fared Across Elections

Women have made for only 4% of the total candidates who have contested in Mizoram’s electoral history since it attained statehood. Before  2013, women candidates comprised less than 5% of the total contestants. In 2014, 8.6% of the candidates were women, which has marginally increased to 9.2% in the upcoming elections – the highest in Mizoram’s history. 

Of the current women candidates, only one of the Congress nominees, Vanlalawmpuii Chawngthu, has been an MLA previously. She has been fielded by the party in the Aizawl-II seat. Chawngthu won the Hrangturzo seat in the 2014 by-polls and became the state’s first woman MLA since the 1987 elections. In the 2018 elections, Chawngthu, the only woman candidate fielded by the INC, lost. The MNF, which won the assembly elections in 2018, did not nominate any female candidates that year. Of the 16 women who contested that election, all but two forfeited their deposits.

Source: Election Commission Of India

Between 1987 and 2018, 31.% of the women candidates who contested were Scheduled Tribes. The assembly elections of 1987, 1989, 1993, and 2003 had only one ST woman candidate. And 1998 and 2018 did not have any ST women contestants;  it was highest in 2008, when nine ST women contested the election.

  • Ditsa Bhattacharya is a journalist and a postgraduate student at Jamia Millia Islamia. Her work revolves around gender, labour, health, education, and politics

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