The future of lotteries in India continues to be called into question. After the country’s comptroller warned earlier in June that Kerala wasn’t doing enough to prevent scams, now the main opposition party in Mizoram is going after a minister for allegedly participating in a multi-crore lottery scam.
The Mizo National Front (MNF) has accused Chief Minister Lal Thanhawla of being involved in the scam through the issuance of tenders to four lottery distributors on May 30. The MNF pointed out that the distributors had not presented revenue consistent with the industry to the government for the past six years. The MNF’s general secretary, L. Thangmawia, added that the distributors had cost Mizoram around $17.3 million as a result.
The MNF has demanded a probe by India’s Central Bureau of Investigation into the matter. It has also asked the Mizoram government to revoke the new tenders and to allow for more distributors to be approved for lottery licenses.
Lotteries are always a touchy subject in the country. Both Kerala and Mizoram have come under fire for lax lottery oversight and possible scams. The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) accused Kerala of not doing its part to provide oversight of the industry, which resulted in a large fake ticket ring. Last year, Mizoram was admonished by the CAG over discrepancies in its lottery management, saying that the state never collected all of the proceeds from distributors that it was owed.
Kerala and Mizoram have battled in the past over the lottery. Kerala banned the neighboring state from selling its lottery tickets in Kerala in 2017, a move that was subsequently overturned by the Kerala High Court.
The MNF has its roots in 1960 when it was known as the Mizo National Famine Front (MNFF). It previously launched armed insurrections in Mizo in an attempt at succession, but never produced the results it anticipated. The MNFF became the MNF in 1961 and a peace agreement between the group and the Government of India was signed in 1986. Since then, it has fought politically for control of the region and is now part of the North-East Regional Political Front, which consists of political parties of the northeast that support the National Democratic Alliance.