Congress' loss in Mizoram is BJP's gain; Shah upbeat

Amit Shah in Kamakhya temple in Guwahati on Wednesday morning

A former Congress minister in Mizoram joined BJP on Wednesday, hours before party chief Amit Shah kicked off the poll campaign exuding confidence that the saffron party would form the government in the Christian-majority state.

Buddha Dhan Chakma, the former fisheries minister, who resigned on Tuesday alleging discrimination against the Chakma community by the Congress government, joined BJP in the presence of Shah at Aizawl, the state capital.

Addressing party workers at an indoor stadium near Aizawl, Shah said BJP would contest all 40 seats in the November 28 Assembly election without a pre-poll alliance. “Congress means corruption and BJP means development,” Shah told the party’s booth level workers, indicating that BJP would make development its poll plank against Congress instead of its Hindutva agenda, which could make a reverse impact in the Christian-majority state. Shah also exuded confidence that the party would achieve its target to make the Northeast Congress-mukt.

Shah performed puja in the ancient Kamakhya temple in Guwahati on Wednesday morning before flying to Mizoram for launching the party campaign. Assam chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal and health minister Himanta Biswa Sarma accompanied him to the temple.  

BJP had floated Northeast Democratic Alliance, a forum of regional parties soon after coming to power in Assam in May 2016 with a target to replace the Congress governments in all the seven states of the region. Assam, Manipur, Tripura and Arunachal Pradesh at present have BJP governments but it could only manage to be part of the government in Meghalaya and Nagaland by having alliances with regional parties after elections earlier this year.  

BJP’s in-charge of Northeast Ram Madhav, who visited Mizoram recently, also said development would be the main poll plank and promised that BJP would construct a trans-Mizoram highway connecting Bangladesh and Myanmar and set up two engineering colleges in the hill state.  

Advantage BJP

BJP at present has no MLA in Mizoram. In 2013, Congress won 34 seats and regional force Mizo National Front got four seats.

Sources said Chakma’s joining could help BJP garner votes of the Chakmas, a Buddhist minority community in the state, who are called “outsiders” by the majority Mizos.

Former home minister R Lalzirliana and health minister Lalrinliana Sailo also deserted Congress recently and joined MNF, giving a blow to the Lal Thanhawla-led Congress government ahead of elections.

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Congress' loss in Mizoram is BJP's gain; Shah upbeat

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