By Benezer – Some political analysts expected the Chin National League for Democracy (CNLD) to oust the National League for Democracy (NLD) in Chin State during the 2020 general election, which ended this Sunday, and not for the incumbent to dominate polls, as the NLD did during the previous race. But to many’s surprises, including CNLD executive members, it wasn’t to be.
While the Union Election Commission (UEC) has not officially announced the November 8 polling results, preliminary data suggests CNLD has landed just one constituency in Chin State.
CNLD secretary Salai Ceu Bik Thawng held higher expectations for his party. “Initially I expected to get at least 11 seats in Parliament, so we were surprised when we learned we only got one.”
He noted, however, that NLD not only outperformed ethnic parties in Chin State but also did so throughout the country.
After suffering a bitter defeat in 2015, competing Chin parties—Chin Progressive Party, Chin National Democratic Party and Chin League for Democracy—merged to form CNLD in a bid to defeat the NLD in 2020.
Before the merger, the parties ran separately in the 2015 general election but did not win any parliamentary seats in Chin State.
Ko Man Um of Third Eye, a Chin political watchdog group, said NLD continues to win in the state because Chin people care more about development than political equality. “Our citizens are not politically aware… we need a lot of roads, buildings, bridges and lands, etc.
This is something that is both visible and measurable.” Because NLD candidates promised more development, they did well in the polls, he explained.
CNLD leaders and candidates have been criticized for not engaging with their constituents.
Salai Man Um, also with Third Eye, told Khonumthung News that no-one wants to vote for candidates living in Rangoon or other locations outside Chin State.
Candidates shouldn’t just be “talking about politics during an election, they need to stay with their people and solve political problems.”
Salai Van Gyu Lian, director of the Chin Bridge Institute, a political analysis group, said many of the NLD candidates are former heads of universities or current ministers and police.
Although in some cases not everyone likes them, he explains they’re still powerful figures in their communities. While CNLD candidates may not carry the same esteem among the Chin population.
Preliminary data indicate that NLD won 36 seats in Chin State. There are 7 constituencies in Paletwa, Matupi, Meintut, Kanpetlet, Falam, Htantalan and Teithein townships. In Hahka township there’s 4 constituencies and 2 in Tungzan township.
Zo Bwai, NLD’s chair for Chin State, said: “We, the NLD, have been fighting the military dictatorship for more than 20 years with our lives, and thus have gained the support of the people.”