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Aizawl, Dec 30 (UNI): The year 2008 saw a storming comeback of the Congress in Mizoram after ten years of hibernation.

2008 witnessed a series of political activities and developments in Mizoram throughout the year. In the administration, it saw non-stop agitations of government employees who were demanding pay parity. As the year started, Mizoram was greeted by acute rice shortage particularly in the rural areas following the cyclic gregarious bamboo flowering locally referred to as Mautam that hit the state the previous year. The bamboo flowering, which occurred every 48 years, resulted in the multiplication of rats that attacked standing rice.

Church organisations, NGOs and global agencies came to the rescue even as the ruling Mizo National Front, which happened to be an offspring of previous Mautam in the late 1950s, was scathingly attacked as failing to combat the famine despite central fund of Rs 125 crore for the purpose. Fortunately, there was no starvation death following the Mautam famine. According to official reports, as many as 1,41,825 families in rural Mizoram were more or less affected by the Mautam. Mautam issue went on to become one of the major poll planks of the Congress in the run-up to the December 2 State Assembly polls. May 15 was a red-letter day for the Mizoram Pradesh Congress Committee as the John Lalsangzuala-led Mizoram Congress Party came back to the parent party after three years of rebellion.

Subsequently, the two MCP legislators elected with the support of ruling MNF, resigned. The Zoramthanga Cabinet on May 30 made a landmark decision to separate the judiciary from the executive. The Gauhati High Courts interim order of June 13 that directed the Mizoram government not to arrest or deport any Indian national under the Inner Line Permit(ILP) Regulation evoked state-wide protest in Mizoram. After an all-party meeting convened by State Home Minister Tawnluia, a state-wide protest day was organised on June 26 against the HC order. Later on August 27, the High Court issued final judgment on the British-time law in favour of Mizoram. August 6, 2008 will be well recorded in the history of Mizoram politics as this day saw the formation of the United Democratic Alliance under the leadership of former chief minister and Mizoram Peoples Conference patriarch 86-year-old Brig T Sailo. Apart from T Sailos MPC, the UDA had Lalduhoma-led Zoram Nationalist Party and farmers organisation Zoram Kuthnathawktu Pawl led by Thanbanglova under its fold. On August 28, the state government announced last pay recommendation based on one-step-up policy with high hope that this would ultimately appease all the agitating government employees.

The hope proved false as the employees agitation went on till the announcement of the State Assembly elections on October 14. Making a complete U-turn, the Zoramthanga Cabinet on September 1 created three new districts Hnahthial, Saitual and Khawzawl. People of Hnahthial had been undertaking massive agitations demanding the district whereas Saitual and Khawzawl made no such stirs.

The creation of the new districts was seen as the election-oriented move of the MNF. September 2 witnessed a sad incident for Mizoram as the Indian Reserve Battalion personnel were ambushed by Hmar militants in Mizorams soil leaving four IR personnel killed. A mind-boggling financial racket known as Chiahpuam bank will also red-mark the year in the history of Mizoram. The pyramid financial scam crashed with the disappearance of the kingpin H Lalmuanpuii on November 2. The arrest of the kingpin on November 8 did not prove a solution to the scam that involved around Rs 30,000 lakhs. The case is still on.

AICC general secretary Rahul Gandhi, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and AICC chief Sonia Gandhi visited Mizoram on November 21, 25 and 28 respectively for election campaigns. Earlier, BJP national president Rajnath Singh also visited the state on the same purpose. Mizoram went to the polls on December 2 with nationally-acclaimed low-key campaign thanks to the efforts of the Church-sponsored election watchdog Mizoram Peoples Forum.

The Zoramthanga-led Mizo National Front which had been ruling the roost for the last two terms suffered a thumping defeat from a resurrecting Congress which won 32 seats out of the total 40 seats.

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