Aizwal: Deprived of OBC status by Mizoram government and the alleged step-motherly attitude of Mizos, Gorkhas, who are one of the largest minorities in the state, are weighing the NOTA option provided by the Election Commission in the November 25 Assembly elections.
"The Gorkhas in Mizoram deserve OBC status. We have been fighting for it for a long time. We want OBC status for securing central government jobs. We are not interested in OBC status for state government jobs," Mizoram Gorkha Joint Action Committee, chairman, H B Thapa, said here.
"So this year the Gorkhas in the state might use the NOTA option to register their grievances," he said.
There are around 25,000 Gorkhas in the state out of which 9771 are eligible voters. The Gorkhas are present in 23 of the 40 assembly segments in the state.
"All state governments since 1987 have denied us our rights. Now if our community decides to go for the NOTA option then it is only due to their apathy. We thank the Election Commission for this option," said Mahesh Rai, a prominent Gorkha leader.
The Election Commission has given the NOTA option meaning 'none of the above', for voters unhappy with candidates or those who do not want to vote for any political party.
The present Congress government had formed a committee, which gave its report accepting the demand of the Gorkhas for OBC status for central government jobs. But nothing has moved further since then.
Gorkhas started settling in the late 1880s and had backward community status when Mizoram was a part of Assam.
But when Mizoram became a separate state in 1987, the backward status was taken away and Gorkhas were made a 'general category' group, denying them the special privileges that they used to enjoy while applying for jobs in either the Central or the state government.
Thapa claimed that the present state government could not move forward with the recommendations because of the diktat of the influential Mizo StudentsҒs Union, which had openly opposed granting of OBC status to Gorkhas.
The political parties too did not dare take on the Mizo Students Union, as they were very influential among the Mizo youths and students and their support for a political party was a deciding factor, he claimed.
"The issue has been lingering for quite some time. There are certain groups who have raised their opposition against the proposal. The state cabinet will take a decision on it in an appropriate time," Education minister Lalswata said.
The main opposition alliance, MDA led by MNF, too is non-committal to the grant of OBC status to the Gorkhas if it comes to power.