Manipur violence puts BJP on back foot in Mizoram elections, but leaders confident of better outcome

Aizawl, November 2 (IANS): BJP leaders from different northeastern states campaigned for the party in the poll-bound Mizoram and predicted that it would do better this time in the November 7 Assembly polls.

The saffron party is eyeing the votes of tribal minorities, including Chakma, Reang, Mara and Lai community people living in the southern and western region of the state.

Due to the devastating ethnic violence in neighbouring Manipur, the BJP (which has been ruling the state) is on the back foot in the election in Mizoram.

All the political parties in Mizoram, including the ruling Mizo National Front (MNF), Opposition Congress and the Zoram People's Movement (ZPM) accused BJP-led governments at the Centre and in Manipur for their “utter failure to deal with the violence and to protect the tribals”.

BJP leaders from Assam, Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh and Tripura took part in the campaign for next week’s Assembly elections but no saffron party leader from ethnic violence-hit Manipur participated in the ongoing campaign.

The six-month-long ethnic violence in Manipur became a major election issue in poll-bound Mizoram, where around 13,000 Zo-Kuki-Chin tribals took shelter after being displaced from the neighbouring state.

Nagaland President Temjen Imna Along, who is also the state’s Tourism and Higher Education Minister, on Thursday, said that there can be no prediction in elections.

“However, the BJP would do much better than the previous Assembly elections. We are very optimistic about the party's good result in Mizoram,” said Along, who along with Nagaland Deputy Chief Minister and senior BJP leader Yanthungo Patton campaigned in Mizoram.

“Our leaders have been working very hard on the ground. We would perform better than before. A nationalist party like the BJP is to be well understood by the Mizo people. People of Mizoram should put their faith in the BJP and vote for our candidates,” Along told the media.

Union Minister from Arunachal Pradesh Kiren Rijiju, Patton, Along, BJP observer Rituraj Sinha (from Assam) and BJP MLA from Tripura Promod Reang attended the public meeting of Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, who addressed an election rally in Western Mizoram’s Mamit district on Wednesday.

Union Minister of Ports, Shipping and Waterways and former Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal is also campaigning for the BJP in Mizoram.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was scheduled to visit Mizoram for the election campaign on October 30, has cancelled his trip to the poll-bound state.

BJP leaders in Mizoram said that Home Minister Amit Shah would instead lead the BJP’s campaign in the northeastern state.

Commenting on the cancellation of the Prime Minister’s visit, Congress General Secretary Jairam Ramesh had said that Modi cancelled his Mizoram election rally due to his silence over the Manipur crisis.

Ramesh had said in a post on X, “The Prime Minister was to address an election rally in Mizoram on Oct 30. But now there are reports that he has cancelled his visit. Could it be because questions would be raised that he had not found time to visit the deeply troubled neighbouring state that has been on the deep edge for almost 180 days… with what face would he go to the rally in Mizoram?”

The BJP, which has now one MLA in the 40-member Mizoram Assembly, has fielded 23 nominees for the November 7 elections. The party contested 39 seats in the 2018 Assembly polls, secured only 8.50 per cent votes and 33 of the contestants forfeited their deposits.