Mizoram polls: Cong squares off against MNF, BJP

Mizoram polls: Cong squares off against MNF, BJP

Agency News

Guwahati, Nov 27: Christian dominated state of Mizoram-the last bastion of Congress in the Northeast-will go to the polls on Tuesday with rival parties Mizo National Front and new entrant Bharatiya Janata Party(BJP) looking to make deep inroads in the 40-member Assembly.

An electorate of 7, 70,395 are eligible to exercise their franchise in the tiny northeastern state. The Congress and the main Opposition, MNF, have fielded 40 candidates each, while the BJP is contesting from 39 seats. The Zoram Peoples Movement (ZPM), an alliance formed by two political parties and four groups, is contesting from 35 seats.

In 2013 Assembly elections, the Congress won 34 seats, the MNF five and Mizoram People’s Conference one.

In an otherwise quiet campaigning affair, this year the hill state witnessed high voltage political slugfest with national parties, including BJP, throwing its full weight in the run up to the polls to oust the five-time Congress Chief Minister Lal Thanhawla.

Lal Thanhawla is facing stiff opposition from his arch rival Zoramthanga, who is also a two time chief minister from MNF.

There is a catalyst in the form of BJP in the battle between two state leaders. Already in government in six out of the seven states north-eastern states, the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance is hoping to play a kingmakers role in case of a hung assembly.

The party, which till date has not been able to win a single seat in the state after its formation in 1987, has fielded 39 candidates and roped in several senior disgruntled leaders from the ruling Indian National Congress to its fold.

The chief strategist of the Bharatiya Janata Party in the Northeastern region, Himanta Biswa Sharma, who set the ball rolling for the party in the state, told UNI,' Without BJP's support nobody can form the government in the state. We are sure to win many seats which will influence the government making in the state.'

However, optimism exuded by Mr Sharma about prospects of his party in the Christian dominated state still has a few issues to be ironed out.

In a Christian-majority state, it is going to be an uphill task for a party that supports beef ban as part of its Hindutva agenda. On the other hand, all efforts to stitch alliance with a local party for an image makeover failed as all wanted to keep safe distance from the party before polls.

"The ideology of Hindutva and Christianity are completely different, which is why the Church is against BJP. They have no chance, they will draw a nil," Zoramthanga said.

However, BJP despite carrying ideological baggage of Hindutva, is in power in government in two Christian dominated states-Meghalaya and Nagaland.

Ruling Congress is facing anti-incumbency and also a miffed Church over lifting of ban on liquor. Church plays a dominant role in the polls in the state.

Mizoram has generally seen a bipolar contest between the Congress party and the Mizo National Front. This year, the addition of BJP has added a new dimension to the poll battle. (UNI)