BJP going Meghalaya, Nagaland way in Mizoram?

BJP going Meghalaya, Nagaland way in Mizoram?

MNF party workers at a campaign near Aizawl. DH photo

With the BJP and two of its partners in the North East Democratic Alliance (NEDA) — Mizo National Front (MNF) and National People's Party (NPP) — set to contest the Assembly elections separately, many in Mizoram believe the BJP was taking the Meghalaya and Nagaland route to stay in government in the Christian-majority state. 

The BJP and the MNF have fielded candidates in all the 40 seats, the NPP has decided to contest only in eight seats as it believes it can become an "important player" in case of a possible hung Assembly, like in Meghalaya. 

The BJP, although says it has decided not to have a pre-poll alliance as it is confident of a forming government and achieve its target to make Mizoram "Congress-mukt," the ruling Congress has claimed the saffron party was adopting the strategy as 'Hindu BJP' is not accepted in the Christian-majority Mizoram. The Congress suspects the BJP would try to form a coalition government with the MNF in case the Congress falls short of the majority mark. 

"The BJP and the MNF are not openly talking about their hidden alliance, as BJP is not acceptable in Mizoram, and churches don’t like them. As churches play a strong and decisive role in Mizo society, the MNF is playing the regional politics cards and plans to form a government with the BJP after the elections. But we are very confident that people have already understood their tactics and will vote against both MNF and BJP," Lallianchhunga, spokesperson of Mizoram Pradesh Congress Committee, told DH on Saturday from Aizawl. 

A total of 211 candidates have filed their nomination papers for the 40-member Mizoram Assembly elections on November 28. 

The BJP had floated NEDA, a forum of regional parties in the Northeast, soon after it formed a coalition government in Assam in May 2016, and wrested power from the 15-year-old Congress government. The BJP then announced that NEDA would make all seven states in the Northeast "Congress-mukt" (Congress-free). 

The BJP continued its winning streak and got majority in Tripura, the Left's second stronghold after Kerala. It got N Biren Singh, a Congress dissident in Manipur, on board and wrested power from the Congress. 

Sensing that the BJP would not be equally accepted in Christian-majority Nagaland and Meghalaya, the party forged an alliance with Neiphiu Rio-led National Democratic People's Party in Nagaland and contested 47 of the total 60 seats in Meghalaya. The BJP got only two seats but became part of the Meghalaya government with NPP leader Conrad Sangma as the chief minister. The NPP got 19 seats, but formed the government with support of UDP and PDF, two other small regional parties. 

The MNF is projecting former two-time chief minister Zoramthanga as their chief ministerial candidate, but the BJP has not named their CM candidate, indicating that they would back Zoramthanga, after the results to keep the Lal Thanhawla-led Congress at bay.