Cong gets jolt in Mizoram, speaker joins BJP

Cong gets jolt in Mizoram, speaker joins BJP

The ruling Congress in Mizoram on Monday received another blow ahead of Assembly elections with Speaker and senior party leader Pu Hiphei switching over to the BJP after he was denied a party ticket.

Hiphei, a two-time MLA from Palak constituency and former Rajya Sabha member joined the BJP in Aizawl, hours after he tendered his resignation as a Speaker and as a Congress member.

Heiphei is the fourth Congress MLA to quit ahead of elections to the 40-member Assembly on November 28.

Former home minister and influential leader R Lalzirliana had quit the ruling party in September and decided to contest elections for Mizo National Front (MNF), the regional party, which is eyeing to come back to power and deny Chief Minister Lal Thanhawla his third consecutive term.

The BJP has had the maximum gain ahead of the elections as two former Congress ministers— Buddha Dhan Chakma and Lalrinziala Sailo— joined it, they were also given the party tickets.

Although MNF is part of North East Democratic Alliance (NEDA), a forum of regional parties in the Northeast floated by the BJP, the two parties are contesting separately in all the 40 seats in Mizoram.

The BJP, at present has no MLA but is confident of forming a government and accomplish its target to make Mizoram “Congress Mukt.” (Congress-free)

The Congress, although, exuded confidence to retain power saying voters in the Christian-majority Mizoram would not accept a “Hindu BJP,” desertion of important leaders including Hiphei has come as a blow to the party, weeks ahead of the polls.

Sources said Hiphei was earlier named as Congress candidate for Palak constituency but was subsequently dropped following reports that he would join the BJP.