BJP fields two pastors in Mizoram amid its vows to achieve Mission NE

New Delhi/Aizawl, Oct 21 (UNI) The first list of candidates nominated by BJP for the ensuing Mizoram elections looks promising in more ways than one as the saffron party keen to establish its footprint in predominantly Christian state has fielded two former pastors.

Rev LR Colney and Rev H Lalruata have been fielded from Aizawl West II and Lunglei East respectively after the BJP central election committee in its meeting on Friday evening gave the nod to the first list.

Senior politician Lalruata was also Minister under legendary Laldenga as the Chief Minister and later also joined Congress in 1993.

Mizoram is the only state in north east which is neither under BJP or a NDA regime and hence Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s declared ambition of achieving ‘Congress free north east’ seems to be only a few steps away, say BJP leaders.

The BJP has immense organisational weakness in the state and in the past faced hurdles for its alleged pro-Hindutva slant. However, there is a changed political dynamics in north east in last few years as the Lotus party has made its presence felt in Christian-dominated Nagaland winning as many as 12 seats out of only 20 seats it contested in February 2018. In Meghalaya two, there are two BJP legislators.

During his visit to Aizawl on last Wednesday, BJP chief Amit Shah also shared staged with Nagaland Deputy Chief Minister Y Patton of his party to drive home the point that Nagas, also committed Christians, are voting for the party.

The CEC meeting at BJP headquarters was attended among others by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP chief Amit Shah, Organisational Secretary Ram Lal and central ministers including Rajnath Singh, JP Nadda, Thawar Chand Gehlot, Arun Jaitley and Sushma Swaraj.

The saffron party leadership has also fielded Vanupa Zathang, a former IPS officer, who has moved to the BJP from its regional ally Mizo National Front (MNF) after he was given a cold shoulder treatment in the regional outfit.

Belonging to Lai ethnic group, Mr Zathang is considered popular in the Lai autonomous district council region. Mr Zathang as MNF nominee narrowly lost the Lawngtlai East to the Congress candidate H Zothangliana by a narrow margin in 2013.

“As BJP nominee from Lawngtlai East, Mr Zathang will have an added advantage as the community has generally tried to side with the ruling dispensation in Delhi. As a sub tribe, they consider themselves ‘minority’ to an extent and feels insecured with mainstream Mizos in MNF or in Congress,” a political analyst Pu Lalruipui said in Aizawl.

The party nominee for Mamit seat along politically sensitive Mizoram-Tripura-Bangladesh border will be Malsawmtluanga, an enterprising businessman and BJP Young Wing president in the state.

Mr Malsawmtluanga is also related to the Chief Minister Lal Thanhawla and would be now locked in a triangular contest against Congress nominee and Transport Minister John Rotlunagliana and MNF candidate H Lalzirliana.

BJP’s regional ally MNF – but contesting all 40 seats in Mizoram – will be announcing its list of candidates on Monday.

The Congress has already announced its 36 list of candidates. The grand old party has named among others one woman Vanlalawnpuii Chawngthu, the state Cooperative Minister. She will contest from Hrangturzo.

With BJP’s entry into the fray – and that too with an ambitious declaration of Mr Amit Shah that – it will come to power before Christmas – the rivals have tried to bring in the issue of ‘insecurity’ of Christians vis-a-vis radical Hindutva.

In some quarters, Congress leaders are talking about the issue of ‘beef eating’ – an idea considered anti-thesis to BJP’s ideology.

BJP’s election in charge for Mizoram and Assam Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma told reporters in Aizawl that Christians would never face any problem in the hands of the BJP and would never face so in the future. Instead, he said the Congress party is trying to use religious sentiments to garner political benefit