BJP eyes last Congress bastion in Northeast

After having decimated the Congress in six of the seven Northeastern states, the BJP has now sets its sights on Mizoram, the last among the ‘Seven Sisters’ that still remain with the grand old party.

Published: 05th May 2018 11:17 PM  |   Last Updated: 06th May 2018 09:52 AM   |  A+A-

GUWAHATI:After having decimated the Congress in six of the seven Northeastern states, the BJP has now sets its sights on Mizoram, the last among the ‘Seven Sisters’ that still remain with the grand old party.That the BJP is making inroads into the Christian-majority state, where Assembly polls are due at the year-end, was evident from the results of the recently-held Chakma Autonomous District Council election. The party bagged five of the 19 seats, one less than the ruling Congress’s six. Opposition Mizo National Front (MNF) had won eight seats. Prior to this, the BJP had never won a seat in any election in the hill state.

While the MNF, which ruled Mizoram thrice but is now faced with depleting popularity, has got rejuvenated after the electoral success, the results have brightened the BJP’s prospects, too. Both are partners in a non-Congress conglomerate of parties called North East Democratic Alliance (NEDA).
The BJP hardly has a base in Mizoram, but that may not be the reason to write it off. The party had risen to power from a similar situation, first in Manipur last year and then in Tripura this year.

In Mizoram, the BJP first contested the polls in 1993 and got only 3.11 per cent votes. Seven of its eight candidates forfeited security deposits. In the next four elections, its vote share kept sliding—2.5 per cent, 1.87 per cent, 0.44 per cent and 0.37 per cent, respectively.But the district council election results have brought a ray of hope for the party. “We are consolidating our base in rural as well as urban Mizoram. If anything, the Chakma Autonomous District Council election results are a pointer. The youths of Mizoram are influenced by Modiji,” BJP’s Northeast in-charge Ajay Jamwal told The Sunday Standard.

“There’s huge anti-incumbency this time and 70 per cent people don’t want the Congress to retain power. The BJP has an alliance with MNF in NEDA. It will either align with the party (for assembly polls) or go it alone,” he said. Jamwal claimed the party was getting a Tripura-like response in Mizoram, growing at the expense of both Congress and MNF.

The BJP’s state unit president J V Hluna, too, claimed the youths were enthusiastic about the party. “They appreciate our Prime Minister. For now, we are trying to reach out to college and university students. The basic objective is to explain to them the BJP’s position on some key issues, including religion,” he said.
Hluna said the BJP was fighting to blunt the “misinformation campaign” of the Congress and Chief Minister Lal Thanhawla against the party. “We have published a booklet titled BJP and Christianity. Through it, we are telling people that BJP is a secular party which is committed to protecting the interests of all religions, including Christianity,” Hluna said.

The CM, however, claimed there was no BJP surge. “It is the Congress which is getting strengthened each passing day. There is no anti-incumbency,” he asserted, accusing the BJP of using money power to manipulate the district council election results.

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