Aizawl: Union Minister of State for Minority Affairs John Barla on Monday said the Centre would focus on projects to improve education, healthcare and livelihood, among others, in the Mara Autonomous District Council (MADC) in the southern part of Mizoram. 

Barla, who arrived in the state on Saturday, is currently campaigning for the BJP candidates for the MADC polls, which is scheduled to be held on May 5. 

“There are a lot of schemes and projects under the Ministry of Minority Affairs for the development and welfare of the people. Among those schemes and projects, I want to focus on education, healthcare, livelihood and skill development training for educated unemployed youths. My ministry would make projects for the development of Mara people in this regard,” Barla said while addressing a political rally at Siaha town, the headquarters of the MADC on Monday.

He said the NDA government, headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, would amend the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution to strengthen and give more power to the autonomous district councils in the country. 

Apart from the MADC, there are two ADCs in Mizoram – Lai Autonomous District Council (LADC) and Chakma Autonomous District Council (CADC), all of them located in the southern part of the state. 

Hitting out at the ruling Mizo National Front (MNF) in Mizoram, Barla accused it of neglecting the minorities and failing to execute development policy owing to rampant corruption.

“At a time when the PM Modi government at the Centre and other states are following good governance, the Mizoram government is still unable to carry out development policy owing to rampant corruption,” he said. 

He also accused the Mizoram government of snatching away funds sanctioned under the Minority Affairs Ministry for minority areas in the state.

Although an ally of the NDA at the Centre, the MNF does not work with the BJP in the state and the lone BJP legislator is in the opposition bench here. 

The Union Minister also alleged that the MNF government has misused nearly Rs 40,000 lakh released by the Centre for the MADC. He further said that the state government could not implement the state’s flagship programme Socio-Economic Development Policy (SEDP) till now despite allocating crores of rupees in the state budget. 

During his interaction with leaders of churches and NGOs in the Mara area on Sunday, Barla said the BJP-led NDA government has a soft corner for and is favouring the Christians. 

He said the BJP is a secular party and not communal as assumed by some people. 

Polling for the MADC will be held on May 5 and counting of votes will be undertaken on May 9.

According to Siaha Deputy Commissioner Lalsangliana, who is the returning officer, a total of 42,342 electorates, including 21,969 female voters, would exercise their franchise to decide the fate of 85 candidates.

The MNF has fielded candidates all the 25 seats, while the BJP, which is currently in power in the council, is contesting 24 seats and the Congress (23), he said.

Main opposition party Zoram People’s Movement (ZPM) in its electoral debut in the council polls is contesting in 8 seats, he said. Besides, there are five independent candidates.

In the 25-member council, the BJP now has 17 members, MNF (6) and Congress (2).

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