Updated: October 18, 2018 4:56:03 am
On Wednesday afternoon, BJP president Amit Shah officially kicked off the party’s campaign for the upcoming Mizoram Assembly elections. Shah, in a meeting attended by statewide booth level workers at Aizawl’s R Dengthuama Indoor Stadium, addressed a crowd of approximately 7,000 people. BJP general secretary Ram Madhav, Assam finance minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, Nagaland deputy chief minister Y Patton and BJP State President JV Hluna were also present.
“There is a big difference in the Northeast of 2014 (when BJP first came to power) and now. Then the Northeast was known for corruption and terrorism. Now it is known form culture and development,” Shah said, alluding to the support BJP has in the other seven states of the Northeast. Mizoram, which has had a Congress government for the last two terms, is the only state in the region that BJP is out of power.
Being a new entrant to the political scene, the party is trying its best to fight its “anti-Christian party” tag that it has been given in the Christian-dominated state of Mizoram. “After seeing so many of you here, I am reassured that the next Christmas Mizoram celebrates will be a Christmas under the BJP government,” said Shah, adding that he wanted to “thank his Christian brothers and sisters in Nagaland and Meghalaya for all their support.”
In the event, Tuichawng constituency legislator Buddha Dhan Chakma, who resigned from the Congress on Tuesday evening because of “internal conflict within the Congress party”, was inducted into the BJP by Shah. Chakma is the third MLA to have resigned from the Thanhawla government, which is batting for a third term in the Assembly. “In Mizoram, Congress is a sinking ship — that is why the politicians are jumping out of the ship one by one. Those who want to join the BJP, we welcome them,” said general secretary Ram Madhav. Earlier, Home Minister R Lalzirliana and former Health Minister Lalrinliana Sailo had tendered their resignation and joined the Mizo National Front (MNF).
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While the BJP said they will contest all 40 seats alone, the party is banking on votes from tribal Chakma and Bru minority communities in the state. In fact, the majority of the crowd was believed to have been people from Chakma and Bru belt, who were brought from the border districts of Mizoram for the rally. Potential constituencies the BJP is hopeful of winning a seat in are West Tuipui and Tuichawng in Champhai, which are Chakma-majority constituencies only.
“PM Modiji has instituted 129 schemes and but none of them has reached the Chakmas. Mizoram has received crores for development. Yet there has been no development,” said Shah, lashing out at the incumbent Congress government.
After the rally, Shah proceeded to inaugurate the new BJP State Office, Atal Bhawan in another part of the city.
While it is the MNF and the Congress who are regarded as the main players in this election, the BJP is trying to garner a trickle of support in certain — especially rural — parts of the state. Earlier the BJP said that while they are going to contest all 40 seats alone, they are open to allying with smaller parties in Mizoram.
Present at the rally were hundred of party workers from around Mizoram, holding up banners and sporting caps with the BJP lotus symbol. “We used to support the Congress but they have done nothing for us. We know BJP is ‘anti-Christian’ but that doesn’t scare us, we want schemes that will uplift us,” says Lalramngheti, a booth-level party worker from Tavi.
An official from the security department present at the rally confirmed that there were close to 7,000 people “or maybe more”.
“10,000 were expected. Even the ground floor was packed. Some had come the night before and was put up in a makeshift auditorium as well,” he said. However, many present, admitted that they came because they were provided transport and food for the day. “They sent vehicles to our village. We left at 5 am and ate breakfast in a hotel. I am not a BJP supporter but I am here anyway,” says PC Ralthanwala, 74, from Pehlawn, Aizawl District.
Mizoram is set to go to polls on November 28.
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