Former BJP Mizoram unit spokesperson and retired Deputy Controller of Mines at Indian Bureau of Mines, Lalhriatrenga Chhangte, on Tuesday formally joined the Congress ahead of the bypoll to Tuirial assembly seat in Kolasib district slated for October 30.

The move of Chhangte, who became a well-known figure in Mizoram after he filed criminal cases against former Chief Minister Lal Thanhawla in January 2018, was seen by some political analysts as a good development for the party and the existence of a “no permanent enemy” culture, which is inherent in politics.

Chhangte, the first mining engineer from the state, contested the Lok Sabha poll on an “independent” ticket in April 2019. He also contested the bypoll for the Serchhip assembly seat in April on a BJP ticket but lost both.

Speaking at the induction ceremony, Chhangte said he joined the Congress after the party president Lal Thanhawla wholeheartedly welcomed him keeping aside the past experiences.

He said he joined the Congress camp with a missionary zeal to work for the state and the Mizo people.

“I came with a missionary zeal. Though I had the intention of joining Congress a long time back, I was reluctant until our president (Lal Thanhawla) wholeheartedly accepted me,” he said.

He had no personal hatred against Lal Thanhawla when he filed a criminal case against him in 2018, and his purpose was to create awareness on the importance of declaring personal assets and other details appropriately in an affidavit, he said.

Chhangte said that one has to be in a party to work for development as political parties have a strong influence in a small state like Mizoram.

He would try his best to strengthen the party and work for the development of the state, he added.

After his voluntary retirement from ONGC, Chhangte, also a lawyer from Serchhip town, joined BJP in June 2019 two months after the Lok Sabha poll in which he secured the fifth position among six candidates.

He became the party spokesperson and chairman of a missionary cell set up by the saffron in Mizoram. He quit the party in May 2020.

In January 2018, Chhangte filed a case with the chief judicial magistrate of Serchhip district against Lal Thanhawla, accusing him of issuing false affidavits before the magistrate while filing his nomination for the 2013 assembly elections.

He had alleged that Lal Thanhawla concealed information about him owning a plot of land in Kolkata and his actual age while filing the nomination.

Chhangte had said that the Congress leader failed to declare his land ownership in his affidavits when he filed candidature for his home turf Serchhip constituency in 2013, which contravenes section 125-A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951.

He also alleged that Lal Thanhawla had fabricated false information about his actual age in his affidavit as he had indicated different numbers of ages which prima facie was self-contradicting.

However, Lal Thanhawla was acquitted by the court in October 2019 as no conclusive evidence was found to prove his crime.

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