GUWAHATI: The BJP, which is trying to capture power in Congress-ruled Mizoram, is importing tribal leaders from neighbouring Tripura to warm up to the ethnic minorities ahead of November 28 polls.
The ethnic minorities – Chakmas and Reangs (Brus) – have sizeable populations in five of the state’s 40 Assembly constituencies. The BJP has set its sights on these seats.
Tripura minister Santana Chakma and MLA Pramod Reang are among BJP leaders currently on a recce of the constituencies to try and understand the pulse of voters.
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The Reangs are miffed with the Congress for allegedly doing little on the development front in their areas. They are also not happy over the manner in which the state’s Congress government is handling the issue of Reang refugees, lodged in relief camps in Tripura. The Lal Thanhawla government stands opposed to the refugees’ demand for the creation of an area development council for the Brus.
Similarly, the Chakmas are not happy with the government for denying quota to them. Last year, the state’s lone Chakma minister, Buddha Dhan Chakma, had resigned alleging racial discrimination. He had put in his paper after four Chakma students were denied seats in medical colleges despite clearing the National Entrance and Eligibility Test.
The BJP is now trying to keep the ethnic minorities in a good humour. The party has been successful to some extent as evident from its winning five seats in the Chakma Autonomous District Council election in April. This was for the first time that the BJP had won a seat in any election in Mizoram. Elsewhere in the state, the BJP hardly has any base.
“They (BJP leadership) are talking big. They say they have conquered all states in the Northeast. Now, they will capture power in Mizoram. I will be surprised if the BJP goes on to win even five seats,” a BJP legislator from Tripura told TNIE requesting anonymity.
He said the Mizos, who are in a large majority, would not vote for the “Hindu party” BJP.
The fight is expected between Congress and regional Mizo National Front (MNF). The MNF received a shot in the arms after four Congress MLAs, including a minister, had defected to the party over the past few days.
The MNF is an ally of BJP in non-Congress conglomerate of political parties “North East Democratic Alliance”. However, despite that, both parties decided to fight it alone. Mizoram is the last Congress-ruled state in the Northeast. The BJP is ruling the rest of the states with or without allies.