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MIZORAM

Mizoram: BJP unhappy with Centre’s choice of candidate for LS seat

State unit of saffron party decides not to contest assembly by-election to Aizawl West-I but will back ruling MNF, ally of BJP-led National Democratic Alliance

Henry L Khojol

Aizawl: The Mizoram unit of BJP on Friday expressed disappointment over the Centre’s decision to field a Chakma candidate in the upcoming Lok Sabha polls in the state against the party’s proposal to field a Mizo candidate.

Although it has been already decided, the party also said it would not contest assembly by-election to Aizawl West-I seat but will back the ruling Mizo National Front (MNF), which is an ally of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA).

Election to the lone Lok Sabha seat in Mizoram will be held simultaneously with assembly by-election on April 11.

“The state BJP made a proposal to field a Mizo candidate, which was sternly rejected by the central leadership on the ground that the Mizo people did not wholeheartedly welcome BJP and fielding a Mizo candidate means meaningless,” state BJP president Prof JV Hluna told EastMojo.

He said that the party’s central leadership has asked the state unit not to field a candidate but support NDA’s ally MNF in the Lok Sabha polls during a meeting in Guwahati, Assam on March 14.

However, the Centre agreed to field a candidate and asked the state unit to submit a proposal immediately after he (Hluna) argued the need for fielding candidate of their own to strengthen the party’s state unit, he said.

Hluna said that his party has proposed former state BJP president and senior advocate Ramtiama for the party’s contender for the coming Lok Sabha polls. “We are surprised and strongly dissatisfied with the Centre’s decision for nominating a Chakma candidate by ignoring our proposal of fielding a Mizo candidate,” he said.

He said that many Mizos, including the BJP workers, will be reluctant to vote a Chakma candidate as there is a growing anti-Chakma feeling in the state because of illegal migrant and Citizenship (Amendment) Bill issues.

“To be frank, we don’t simply hate the Chakmas, but what we want is to make our party (BJP) growing stronger,” he said, adding the state unit has no other option but accept the Centre’s decision.

Hluna expressed apprehension that Chakma candidate might have been nominated by the Centre to target Chakma minorities and divert their votes because the Chakma voters used to vote the Congress in the past.

He said that party leaders will try their best to support the party candidate.

The academician turned politician also said that the saffron party would not field a candidate in the assembly by-election based on the suggestion of the Centre. The party would extend support to the ruling MNF’s nominee Zothantlaunga in the by-election as MNF is a NDA partner, he said.

Hluna also expressed confidence that the saffron party will win the polls at the Centre.

The BJP has nominated state vice president and former Congress minister Nirupam Chakma for the party’s candidate in the Lok Sabha polls in its list released on Thursday.

Chakma had successfully contested the state assembly polls from Chawngte on Congress ticket in 1987 and 1989 and was made a Minister of State (MoS) in the erstwhile Lal Thanhawla’s cabinet to become the first ever Chakma Minister in the state.

He was again inducted as MoS after winning the state assembly polls in 1993. He quit Congress and joined BJP in 2015.