MNF back at helm in Mizoram after a decade

AIZAWL:

Days after ending Congress' 10-year rule in Mizoram, Mizo National Front (MNF) chief Zoramthanga on Saturday took oath as the Chief Minister of the northeastern state for a third term.

Governor Kummanam Rajasekharan administered the oath of office and secrecy to Zoramthanga and his 11 Council of Ministers (six of them as ministers of state) at a ceremony at the Raj Bhavan here.

Zoramthanga, 74, earlier headed the state from 1998-2003 and 2003-2008.

During the swearing-in ceremony, the National Anthem was sung, followed by reading of verses from the Bible, singing of religious hymns and prayer by Rev R. Lalhmingthanga, chairman of Mizoram Kohhran Hruaitute Committee, a conglomerate of 16 major churches in the state.

Among those present at the ceremony were outgoing Chief Minister Lal Thanhawla, Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad K. Sangma, Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) leader and former Assam Chief Minister Prafulla Kumar Mahanta, leaders of various political parties and senior civil and security officials. 

The other council-of-ministers who also took oath are: Tawnluia, R. Lalthangliana, Lalchamliana, R. Lalzirliana, C. Lalrinsanga (all cabinet ministers), K. Lalrinliana, Lalchhandama Ralte, Lalruatkima, K. Beichhua, T.J. Lalnuntluanga and Robert Romawia Ralte (all ministers of state).

Tawnluia, who was elected to the Assembly for a fifth term since 1987, has been appointed as Deputy Chief Minister.

"The Chief Minister would distribute the portfolios among the ministers soon after a cabinet meeting," an official of the Chief Minister's secretariat told the media.

The MNF in the November 28 Assembly polls secured 26 seats, five more than an absolute majority in the 40-member Assembly, ousting the Congress from power in its last bastion in northeast India.

The MNF only got five seats in the 2013 Assembly polls, while the Congress won 34. This time, the Congress got only five seats.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for the first time made its entry into the Mizoram Assembly, winning the lone Tuichawng seat.

State Congress chief and outgoing Chief Minister Lal Thanhawla lost in both Champhai South and Serchhip constituencies.

Zoramthanga won the Aizawl East-I seat for the fifth term.

The MNF is a constituent of the BJP-led North East Democratic Alliance (NEDA).

However, both the BJP and MNF fielded candidates separately in 40 and 39 seats, respectively.