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BJP eyes second tribal council in Mizoram

The Bharatiya Janata Party is eyeing the second tribal council in Christian-majority Mizoram, adjoining another it had taken over quietly in June 2019.

On Wednesday, Union Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju campaigned for the BJP at Mizoram’s southernmost village Sangau in Lawngtlai district. He said his party would go all out to win the Lai Autonomous District Council (LADC), where elections are scheduled for December 4.

Nagaland MLA Mmhonlumo Kikon, a key member of the BJP’s central team, also campaigned in LADC to indicate the party’s focus on an election in one of India’s remotest corners.

“Every election is important for us. In a State where we hardly had any presence a few years ago, we have an MLA [Buddha Dhan Chakma won the Tuichawng seat in 2018] and we rule the Mara Autonomous District Council,” former Mizoram BJP president J.V. Hluna told The Hindu from State capital Aizawl. “We hope the attention of the central leadership will help us win the 25-seat LADC too and provide stable governance for five years of the council’s term.”

The BJP did taste blood briefly in LADC when 13 elected members of the Congress switched over in October 15. This gave the BJP control of the council, four Congress members having resigned earlier.

Mizoram’s BJP president Vanlalhmuaka said the party had fielded 17 candidates and backed independents in the eight other seats. The Congress is also contesting 17 seats, while the Mizo National Front (MNF), which had won eight seats in the last LADC election, has fielded candidates in all 25.

The MNF, otherwise a constituent of the BJP-fronted North East Democratic Alliance that seeks to rid the northeast of the Congress, rules Mizoram.

BJP-Cong. alliance

The first tribal council in Mizoram that the BJP ruled was the Chakma Autonomous District Council (CADC) in Lawngtlai district with the Congress as its “unnatural” ally after the April 2018 election there resulted in a fractured verdict.

The BJP, which had won five seats to the 20-member CADC, was expected to join hands with the MNF that won eight. But it sealed a deal with the Congress (six seats) to form the council.

The Congress-BJP alliance ended after the MNF won the 2018 Mizoram Assembly polls. It was only a matter of time before the MNF, strengthened by four Congress members changing sides, took over CADC.

Unlike the Chakma council, the BJP has held on to the Mara Autonomous District Council (MADC) that it received on a platter more than a year ago. The saffron party trumped the MNF in absorbing 20 Congress members of the council – three of them nominated – to gain control. MADC adjoins the Lai council.

The Congress had won 17 MADC seats in the May 2017 council elections. The alliance of MNF and a regional party had won seven seats and an independent one seat.

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Printable version | Jan 28, 2021 5:16:00 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/bjp-eyes-second-tribal-council-in-mizoram/article33188658.ece

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