In the 1960s, Pu Bualhranga walked the hills of Myanmar and Bangladesh as a top leader of Mizo National Front then spearheading a powerful insurgent movement against India.
Now in his mid-eighties, he advises his former comrades now ruling Mizoram and is treated as the wise old man who seen much ups and downs.
“I have been a legislator of People’s Conference but never a minister. But my advice is always sought by regional parties. I now tell them to connect to Myanmar and Bangladesh,” Bualhranga told Northeast Now.
“We stand to gain from spillover effects of their economy.”
“Our future is linked to the growth of our neighbours like Myanmar and Bangladesh and not so much to what happens in Gujarat and Maharastra,” he said.
Bualhranga wants the Modi government to complete the Kaladan Multi-Modal project soonest possible, so Mizoram can have an outlet to the sea via the port of Sittwe and connect more easily to the Indian mainland.
“Delhi should do less grandstanding and focus on completing this project. This is crucial for Mizoram,” Bualhranga said.
“And our chief minister Zoramthanga, my junior in the MNF, must push Delhi hard on this.”
“Only when we have easy connectivity to the outside world will Mizoram attract investment for industries. Only then we will have an economy worth talking about.”
Bualhranga says India’s poor record of implementing projects forces Myanmar and Bangladesh to turn to China.
“They don’t like the Chinese and suspect their motives. But the Chinese deliver and India doesn’t, so small countries don’t have much options. I import Chinese furniture not for any other reason but because they offer competitive rates and value for money,” Bualhranga said.
“That saves our forests.”
The one-time MNF senator recalled his rift with Laldenga, the MNF supremo.
“When we realised he had become an agent of Pakistan and China and was no longer passionate about Mizo independence, many of us called it a day in the underground. We were branded as Indian collaborators, the ‘Dumpawl’ or blue group but many of our top guerilla commanders also later broke away from him when they saw through his motives and joined us,” Bualhranga said.
“Mizoram could have got the peace accord a decade before 1986 when it was finally signed. Laldenga could have spared his people much bloodshed,” Bualhranga said.
In the same vein, he blamed Congress chief minister Lalthanhawla for “institutionalising corruption” in Mizoram.
“Both Laldenga and Lalthanhawla had adverse impact on our political culture. Mizos need a new regional party and perhaps the Zoram Peoples Movement has a future,” he said.
The ZPM, an alliance of six regional parties and led by former IPS officer Lalduhawma, won 8 seats in the 40 member Mizoram assembly in the last state assembly polls.