Manipur violence has jeopardised BJP’s poll prospects in Mizoram
The bloody ethnic clashes in Manipur seem to have whittled down the prospects of the BJP to change its fortunes in neighbouring Mizoram where Assembly polls are due in November-December this year.
Mizoram is the only Christian-majority state in the Northeast where the BJP is not in power.
The party’s optimism to come to power stemmed from inroads it made in the two of the state’s three autonomous district council areas. The BJP now controls the 28-member Mara Autonomous District Council (MADC). It finished second, ahead of the Congress, in the Chakma Autonomous District Council elections held in May this year.
BJP grows strength
Speculations are also rife that a few legislators of the ruling Mizo National Front (MNF) and some prominent leaders, including former social welfare minister K Beichhua, may join the saffron party. Beichhua resigned from the ministry in December last year.
Earlier this year, Speaker of the Mizoram Assembly, Lalrinliana Sailo even suggested that the MNF should join hands with the BJP because the saffron-party government at the Centre is “doing lots of development works in the region.”
Everything seemed to be falling in place for the BJP in this tiny north-eastern state that has a 40-member Assembly. But the ethnic clashes between the Meiteis and Kuki-Zo communities broke out in BJP-ruled Manipur, casting its shadow on the poll prospect of the party in Mizoram.
Effects of Manipur clashes on Mizoram
The first direct spill-over political impact of the Manipur situation was felt by the BJP on Thursday when one of its senior vice presidents R Vanramchhuanga resigned from the party.
Vanramchhuanga cited failure of the BJP governments both at the Centre and Manipur to protect Christian Kuki-Zo community as the reason for his severing ties with the party.
Kuki-Zo tribes are part of the larger Mizo community, which is a conglomeration of five major and 11 minor tribes. All these tribes are mostly Christian.
Over 10,000 of the displaced Kuki-Zo people have taken shelter in Mizoram, fleeing from Manipur.
“It is natural that the current unrest in Manipur will have a socio-political impact in Mizoram since we Mizos have close ethnic and religious affinity with the Kuki-Zo people of Manipur,” said Aizawl-based political commentator Zodin Sangha.
‘BJP will pay political price’
Vanramchhuanga said the BJP will pay the political price for its failure in Manipur.
“The BJP chief minister of Manipur N Biren Singh remained mute to the attacks on the Kuki-Zo people and several churches and even the Union home minister Amit Shah did not do much to prevent those attacks. The assault on our brothers and sisters in Manipur deeply pained us,” the former BJP leader said.
“In my opinion the progress the BJP had made in Mizoram would come to naught because of the horrific incidents in Manipur, which even saw hundreds of churches being attacked,” he told The Federal.
Many BJP leaders admitted on the condition of anonymity that the Manipur development has indeed been a setback for the party because of the alleged partisan role of the Biren Singh government in the conflict.
Kuki-Zo community organisations have accused his government of siding with Meitei groups involved in the violence.
Renewed demand to unify ‘Mizo areas’
The conflict in Manipur gained significance in Mizoram after Chief Minister Zoramthanga seized the opportunity to rake up the old demand of his party for the unification of all contiguous areas inhabited by Mizo community.
Unification of Mizo areas of Mizoram, Manipur, Tripura and Assam was one of the demands of the MNF during the peace negotiations with the Centre that led to the signing of historic Mizo Accord in 1985.
Mizoram BJP president Vanlalhmuaka, however, is still optimistic that his party would surely be part of the next government in Mizoram.
“Either of our own or in alliance we (BJP) will form the government. There will be an influx of sitting legislators to the BJP after the monsoon session of the assembly,” he told The Federal.
He said the Manipur violence will have no impact on the party’s poll prospects as there is still four to five months left for the elections.
“By then the situation will normalize in Manipur and the issue will die down even here (Mizoram),” he added.