Tilak Controversy: Mizoram CM hits back, says need to know and respect other cultures

Mizoram Chief Minister and Congress chief Lal Thanhawla hit back against the opposition's attack on him for sporting a tilak and charges of him forsaking his religion by saying "I wiped away the tilak on my forehead after the function, but how are those who took up arms and caused deaths of many innocents to wipe the blood from their hands?" in obvious reference to the Mizo National Front, who fought a 20-year guerrilla war against Indian Armed Forces for a separate Mizo country.

Speaking at a joint platform organized by the Mizoram People's Forum at his bastion Serchhip, Lal Thanhawla said the opposition had resorted to such tactics "because they cannot find any evidence of corruption against me and this is all they have to stand on." Rooting out corruption was the Congress' main plank in 2008, where they won by a landslide to win 32 of 40 seats.

At the platform, the five-time Chief Minister came under attack from other candidates particularly the Mizoram Democratic Alliance's C Lalramzauva and independent Lalawmpuia Renthlei as he has been from various other opposition politicians over the past few months as they attempt to make it a poll plank, tapping into the Christian Mizos' religious sentiment as well as widespread fears of being swamped by larger ethnic populations, charging the Congress of playing "Indianization politics".

To this charge, Lal Thanhawla said, "God has sought us Mizos out with his spirit, and why should we who believe this fear being swamped? Will God not protect us, those he has found? He will not allow us to be swamped."

In a veiled attack on the CM, who has been under attack for sporting tilaks and taking part in pujas several times on visits outside, the MDA's Lalramzauva said in his speech at the joint platform, "Spiritual people have said these elections are not going to be fought between parties but between forces of good and evil, between believers and non-believers."

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