Man with 39 wives courted in India election

Zionnghaka Chana with 39 wives and 127 children has a sizeable voting bloc in Mizoram where winning margins are thin.

    Man with 39 wives courted in India election
    Mizoram is the only state voting on Friday in the fourth of nine stages of polling [EPA/STR]

    As India holds the latest round of its mammoth elections, one man - polygamist and sect leader Zionnghaka Chana - has become the voter every local politician wants to know. With 39 wives and 127 children and grandchildren, Chana is a voter like no other in the remote northeastern state of Mizoram, and can deliver a sizeable bloc of support.

    "We were witnessing a rush of politicians seeking votes in the last few days," Chana told AFP from his home in the hills of Baktawng village outside the state capital Aizawl.

    "During every election we are much in demand as the winning margins of politicians in this state are slim, so even 100-odd votes matter to them," Chana, 70, said earlier this week.

    Mizoram is the only state voting on Friday, in the fourth of nine stages of voting in the world's biggest election, after the Election Commission rescheduled polling following a dispute over whether tribal groups displaced during recent ethnic strife were allowed to vote in their refugee camps.

    The state represents less than one percent of India's 814 million-strong electorate. Voting across India ends on May 12, with results due four days later.

    "When we go to vote, we always cast our ballots for the same candidate or party. That means more than 160-odd votes are assured from one family," said one of Chana's wives, Rinkmini.

    Like most voters at this election, Chana said he wanted clean government and development so that his family could prosper.

    "All we want is good governance and the wellbeing of the state instead of personal gains for our family from the politicians," he said.

    The sect, founded by Chana's grandfather in the 1930s, has some 1,700 members including four generations of the Chana family, many of whom carve wooden furniture and make pottery items.

    Its philosophy is based on Christian teachings, although leaders from the Presbyterian church, the main faith in the state, reject Chana's embrace of polygamy.



    Interactive: Coding like a girl

    Interactive: Coding like a girl

    What obstacles do young women in technology have to overcome to achieve their dreams? Play this retro game to find out.

    Heron Gate mass eviction: 'We never expected this in Canada'

    Hundreds face mass eviction in Canada's capital

    About 150 homes in one of Ottawa's most diverse and affordable communities are expected to be torn down in coming months

    I remember the day … I designed the Nigerian flag

    I remember the day … I designed the Nigerian flag

    In 1959, a year before Nigeria's independence, a 23-year-old student helped colour the country's identity.