As Mizoram voted on Wednesday, the Bharatiya Janata Party is hopeful of ousting the Congress party in the state. However, the party is viewed by some as having no connection or cultural affiliation whatsoever with the locals there. The "BJP lacks knowledge of Mizo culture"and there is a "clash of tradition" with the local people, said former Mizoram chief secretary and Mizo Peace Accord signatory Lalkhama on Wednesday.
“BJP lacks knowledge about the Mizo culture. When they talk about Indian nationhood, they talk about culture, tradition and customs. Mizo people think that they are not in that group of culture,” Lalkhama told PTI in an interview in Aizawl.
Lalkhama, who played a key role in the creation of Mizoram state, is now 87 years old, but politically active still.
After casting his vote at Zarkawt-II polling station, he said that the people in the Christian-dominated state look at the Opposition BJP with fear owing to the “clash of tradition”.
“People were also apprehensive of the possibility of use of money power by the BJP, but no such proof has been found yet. The BJP is contesting on a serious note for the first time. This fact makes the present election a bit different from the earlier ones,” Lalkhama said.
The Congress has been in power in Mizoram since 2008 and expressed hope of a third consecutive term. This time, the strong contenders in this Assembly polls – the ruling Congress and the Mizo National Front - fielded 40 candidates each this time, while the BJP contested 39 seats with the hope of opening its account in the state for the first time.
While the BJP is actively taking part in the state Assembly this time, several independent candidates also contested in the elections held on Wednesday.
“This time too many Independent candidates are fighting the elections. It never happened earlier. If they win, that will create the possibility of horse-trading,” Lalkhama told PTI.
The total number of Independent candidates contesting this year’s elections in the state is 63. Other regional parties - ZPM and the Zoram Thar – fielded 38 and 23 candidates respectively. These two parties, however, are as good as independents as they have not registered with the Election Commission.
Earlier, BJP national president Amit Shah had declared during his poll campaign in the state that this December, Christmas will be celebrated in Mizoram under the BJP rule.
The BJP is already ruling in Assam, Tripura, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh, besides joining the ruling coalitions in Meghalaya and Nagaland. Hence, party leaders now are eying Mizoram as the final base in its ‘Congress-free North East’ campaign.
While it is to be seen whether the BJP would make its mark in the state or the Congress would regain power, it may be recalled that after 20 years of violence and disturbance in the state, the Mizo Peace Accord was signed on June 30, 1986 by Mizo National Front chief Laldenga, the then Union home secretary RD Pradhan and Lalkhama, who was the Mizoram chief secretary then. Then on February 20, 1987, Lalkhama read out the proclamation of the statehood at a public meeting held at Aizawl’s Parade Ground in the presence of the then prime minister Rajiv Gandhi.