In Mizoram's lone Lok Sabha seat, young political greenhorn Robert Romawia Royte is attempting to repeat a feat which not many have done successfully in the past -- become a candidate supported by combined opposition to win it.
The first was in 1980 when R Rothuama, nominee of the 'Steering Committee', an alliance of the then opposition Congress and allies, defeated ruling People's Conference Brig C Vankunga. Then in 1998, H Lallungmuana, an Independent supported by Citizens Common Front (CCF), MNF (Nationalist) now called ZNP, and MPC, defeated his nearest ruling Congress rival John Lalsangzuala in a six-cornered contest.
The Independent candidate supported by the eight-party alliance United Democratic Front (UDF), Royte is up against sitting Congress MP C L Ruala (78) and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) nominee M Lalmanzuala (72). Royte has been supported by UDF on the condition that he would join the NDA if he wins the seat that goes to polls on April 9.
Ruala had first contested the Lok Sabha polls on a Congress ticket in 1977, unsuccessfully. He has been elected to the state assembly multiple times, including in 1984, 1989 and 1993.
On the other hand, Lalmanzuala, a former state chief secretary and IAS officer of Punjab cadre, had unsuccessfully contested the state assembly polls in 2008 from the prestigious Aizawl North - I seat.
The UDF comprises opposition Mizo National Front (MNF), Zoram Nationalist Party (ZNP), Mizoram People's Conference (MPC), Maraland Democratic Front (MDF), Hmar People's Convention (HPC), Paite Tribe Council (PTC), BJP and NCP.
An academician and a teacher by profession before joining the state School Education Department as a Circle Education Officer, Royte became District Project Coordinator of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) in Aizawl district after the scheme was introduced in the state.
He played an important role in formulating plans for the state SSA mission when posted as an Officer-on-Duty for the State Education Mission Society.
Later, in 2010, he left the government service to join North East Consultancy Service (NECS) as Chief Managing Director, providing consultancy to states in the region such as Nagaland and Meghalaya in getting more funds from Centre.