A family lunch, picnic next to a kiddies' pool

Mizoram Chief Minister Lal ThanhawlaLal Thanhawla, wife and family just returned from a break in Kolkata, “to a tower of pending files”

It's a sound Mizoram Chief Minister Lal Thanhawla's daughter Lucy Sailo has got used to now. "After going through files, he drops them on the floor of the study, making this 'thud'."

There have been several of those the past few days. Lal Thanhawla and his family have just returned from a short break in Kolkata following polling day on November 25. When they returned, "there was a small tower of files waiting for him", laughs Lucy, the Chief Minister's fashion designer daughter.

With Lal Thanhawla now seeking a fifth term in power, the family is used to the sight, even on the rare quiet days like they are seeing now.

In the dining hall of the CM's residence, located on a hilltop on Aizawl's MacDonald Hill, daughter-in-law Rosie and a guest chat over tea about "God's will for the state". From the kitchen wafts in the smell of smoked pork — later that day, the CM is hosting a "farewell meeting" for the Congress's 32 sitting MLAs.

"Farewell?" you ask him. Lal Thanhawla smiles at what that word implies. His party fielded all but one of its sitting MLAs this time, and he says: "We are upbeat. You don't see us packing."

Wife of 44 years and constant companion, Lal Riliani, is as optimistic. "Our party workers were confident and I didn't see any reason to worry if they did not. When we lost in 1998, there was a feeling that yes, we might lose. This time, nothing," she says.

There is a small thing weighing on their minds though. Putting a hand on his abdomen, Lal Thanhawla says he has gained inches during campaigning, as Lal Riliani nods.

"We follow a very strict, meagre diet," the CM says. "No red meat and lots of green salads and fruits. But when we are on the campaign trail, people always remember the meals I used to devour when I was younger, and of course we can't refuse," he says.

... contd.

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