Congress and BJP fight it out in Mizoram today, but earlier this year, they had formed an alliance for an autonomous body

BJP and Congress came together earlier this year to form the Chakma Autonomous District Council in Mizoram

Mizoram goes to poll today to elect its next government. The main contest is expected between incumbent Congress and Mizo National Front (MNF), but Zoram People’s Movement (ZPM) and BJP are also important players in the elections. None of these parties has any pre-poll alliance. Unlike other states in North East where BJP had formed pre-poll alliances and won elections, BJP has decided to go alone in Mizoram.

Although Congress won 34 out of 40 seats in 2013 elections, this time it is expected to come down substantially, due to anti-incumbency factor and the cascading effect of declining fortune of the Congress party at the national level. Chief Minister Lal Thanhawla has said that Congress is open form post-poll alliance with like-minded parties excluding BJP and MNF.

On the other hand, North-East Democratic Alliance (NEDA) convenor Himanta Biswa Sarma has made a very significant comment by saying that BJP has worked with all other three parties in the state and there is nothing to hide in that. According to Sarma, Mizoram Congress is a different entity separate from the Congress party, and since the time of Indira Gandhi, Mizoram Congress is considered different from All India Congress Committee (AICC).

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This may like a strange comment coming from the Congress leader turned staunch critic of Rahul Gandhi, but politics in northeastern states is different from the national level. In the region, politics is more personality driven rather than party driven. In the states of the northeast, it is regular to merge an entire party unit into another one, and parties form alliances which seems impossible, like a BJP-Congress alliance.

There is a BJP-Congress alliance in the state, although not for the assembly election, its there for an autonomous council. In April this year, the election for the 20 seats of Chakma Autonomous District Council (CADC) took place in the state. In the election, MNF won eight seats, Congress won six seats and BJP won five seats. Thus, no party won a majority to form the council, and an alliance was necessary between any two parties. And in an unusual political equation formed by local leaders, the elected council members of Congress and BJP came together. BJP leader Santi Jiban Chakma became the chief executive member (CEM) of the council, with the support of the Congress councillors.

Mizoram is a Christian majority state with Church having a considerable influence in politics of the state. The Church has openly taken an anti-BJP stand in the elections, even expelling its members for joining BJP. That is the reason other parties are not willing to form any pre-poll alliance in the state. Mizo National Front is a member of NDA in the national level, but even they don’t want to be seen with BJP in the state.

BJP is in power in six of the seven states in the northeast, Mizoram being the exception. There are four BJP chief ministers in the region, in Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur and Tripura, while BJP is part of the ruling coalition in Nagaland and Meghalaya. Will BJP be able to come to power in Mizoram, will they form an alliance with any party after the elections, we will know after December 11.

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