For the First Time Since Emergency, Congress Set to Lose its Last Bastion in Northeast
The Congress had won 34 out of the 40 seats in Mizoram in 2013, where either the grand old party or the MNF has ruled the roost since 1987.
File photo of Mizoram Chief Minister Lal Thanhawla (PTI)
If the current trend holds in Mizoram – where the Mizo National Front (MNF) is leading - the Congress is on its way out of the Northeast for the first time since emergency.
After the 2014 elections, the BJP had made clear its intentions of making the Northeast its next frontier. As of now, the saffron party is in power in six out of the seven states. The Congress had won 34 out of the 40 seats in Mizoram in 2013, where either the grand old party or the MNF has ruled the roost since 1987.
Of the 34 seats counted by Tuesday morning, the MNF was leading in 21 - the halfway mark - with the Congress ahead in just seven, 21 short of its tally in last elections. The BJP hoped to play a kingmaker here and had fielded 39 candidates in a bid to sway the elections in case of a hung Assembly.
Three former Congress members - former home minister and vice-president of Mizoram Congress R Lalzirliana, former health minister Lalrinliana Sailo and former Congress MLA BD Chakma (contesting polls on BJP ticket) - who quit the party to join MNF and BJP, were leading in their respective constituencies.
BD Chakma was the only minister from Tuichawng in Thanhawla ministry who had won the seat for the Congress in 2013. He’s leading from the same seat on a BJP ticket.
In 2005, the current BJP chief AB Chakma had quit the party to join the Mizo National Front. “There was no hope for the BJP,” he had said. In 2016, the BJP entered the state’s politics for the first time, making its foray into the Chakma Autonomous Council after a by-election. In 2018, it won five of the 20 seats in the general election to the council.
While these successes don’t imply a massive success for the BJP, but the party hopes to be a kingmaker in the state. Moreover, with the BJP’s strategy in other states often revolving around the formation of strategic alliances to enter the state assemblies, political observers maintained that post-poll alliances couldn’t be ruled out.
In Mizo-majority areas, chief minister Lal Thanhawla had an uphill battle, which he appears to have lost. With 10 years of anti-incumbency, he has so far remained defiant and repeatedly claimed that the party would win comfortably.
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