Mizoram 2018

Mizoram Assembly elections 2018: BJP is ball collector in Mizoram’s soccer field, says Zoramthanga

Former Mizoram Chief Minister Zoramthanga.   | Photo Credit: Ritu Raj Konwar

Zoramthanga, the 74-year-old president of Mizo National Front (MNF) and former Chief Minister, played down the BJP’s bid to conquer Mizoram, its ‘final frontier’. The battle-hardened regional leader, once a commander of an extremist group, was confident that the State would be Congress-free, but because of the MNF and not the saffron party. Excerpts from an interview:

How major a player is BJP in Mizoram?

The political soccer in Mizoram is played by only two players – Congress and MNF. Others, including BJP, are just collectors of the ball when it rolls down the field. They are merely onlookers and I doubt if they can get two seats. The only reason why some are joining BJP is that during elections they may get some money. They have no hope for forming the government.

Which is the stronger of the two players?

As in the rest of the country, the Congress kerosene is exhausting fast. Here, only a burnt wicket is left. The people have seen where the Congress has taken them. The only alternative for them is the MNF.

Has your party done what the BJP did in Assam – rely on leaders imported from Congress?

We did not import their leaders, they came by themselves. We welcome them certainly. They came because of internal fighting, failure of the Congress at national, Northeast and Mizoram levels, corruption, and anger among the people fuelled by the liquor policy.

But Congress says people will vote for them because of the success of the New Land Use Policy (NLUP) beneficiary scheme.

If it has been a success, why did they change the name to NEDP (New Economic Development Policy)? There will be no NLUP if they form the government because they have already thrown it away.

Has being in the BJP-helmed NEDA made you uncomfortable?

We are partners in NEDA, but we have different ideologies and therefore do not fight together. We are a small party, and at the national level we have to be with either UPA or NDA. This is not the case in fundamentally Christian Mizoram where BJP stands no chance because of its Hindutva image.

Do you have a disconnect with the minority Chakma and Bru voters, who the BJP is wooing?

Chakmas and Brus don’t have their own parties; they are with all the parties. We welcome and will take care of the original Chakmas and Brus of Mizoram, but those who came from Bangladesh or outside Mizoram are not welcome. Even the Mizo people from Myanmar are not welcome.

Is this why MNF is against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016?

Yes. We oppose the bill because it challenges the secular fabric of the country. We are against making the country home for one culture or religious practice. We have to live in a secular democratic manner without imposing anyone’s ideology upon any other community.

Do you have the support of the church in this election?

The church is behind us because we support prohibition and also because it trusts us to incorporate Christian values compatible with the Constitution if we form the government. By Christian values, I mean social discipline and not a theocratic order.

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Printable version | Mar 6, 2021 10:56:34 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/elections/mizoram-assembly-elections-2018/mizoram-assembly-elections-2018-bjp-is-ball-collector-in-mizorams-soccer-field-says-zoramthanga/article25569014.ece

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