Mizoram church expels BJP pastor candidate, mum on MNF

Mizoram church expels BJP pastor candidate, mum on MNF

L Colney, former pastor and BJP candidate in Aizawl. Photo by Puia Chhangte

In a development seen as a warning to the saffron party, a church in Christian-majority Mizoram on Thursday expelled a former pastor, whose name came up as a BJP candidate for the November 28 Assembly elections.

L R Colney, who was named as a BJP candidate for the Aizawl East Constituency, was expelled by Mission For Christ (MFC) stating that the former should have stayed away from politics as he was a "lifetime missionary" of the church.

The prominent church, however, has not announced any such decision against R Lalthangliana, another pastor who joined Mizo National Front, a regional party led by former chief minister Zoramthanga. Churches play a strong role in the Mizo society.  

“I don’t understand why they have taken the tough stand against me, while they have not initiated any action against Lalthangliana. Most people here consider the BJP as an anti-Christian party, but this is a misconception. I am new to politics, but ready to contest and I am confident of winning. The BJP has a vision for development of the country and Mizoram, and I will try to drive this message to the voters,” Colney told reporters in Aizawl.

He also suspected that the MFC’s decision could be politically motivated.

Defending the decision, president of MFC, Rev Lalchungnunga said that Colney should not have entered politics as he was a "lifetime missionary" of the church, while Lalthangliana was just an executive member.

The BJP, at present has no MLA in the 40-member Assembly. The MNF is part of North East Democratic Alliance, a forum of regional parties floated by the BJP, but MNF is contesting separately, which the Congress termed as a tactic to form a BJP-MNF coalition government after the elections.   

The Congress government led by Lal Thanhawla is eyeing a third term for the chief minister, but the BJP exuded confidence that it would make Mizoram "Congress-mukt."

Congress manifesto

The ruling Congress on Thursday released its election manifesto, in which it promised formulating a new economic development policy, increasing the quantum of assistance under its much-hyped New Land Use Policy and further improve facilities in healthcare, education and creation of jobs.

It also promised free laptops to students excelling in Class X and above examinations, constructing a racing track to encourage motor sports, promotion of music and fine arts and solar power projects.