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Cong in Mizoram on verge of collapse

Congress is all set to face another reversal in the Northeast with a majority of its legislators in Mizoram likely to break away ahead of the assembly elections.
By Indo-Asian News Service | PTI, Guwahati
UPDATED ON OCT 13, 2003 03:16 PM IST

The Congress is all set to face another reversal in the Northeast with a majority of its legislators in Mizoram likely to break away ahead of the upcoming assembly elections.

"The mood is not very positive. Most legislators don't want to continue under the leadership of former chief minister Lalthanhawla," a Congress party leader said by telephone from Aizawl.

"Chances are that very soon the Congress party might break up," the leader added.

Lalthanhawla faces corruption charges and is being investigated by federal intelligence agencies for alleged misappropriation of government funds during his tenure as chief minister until 1998.

Elections in Mizoram are due in November although the Election Commission is yet to announce the election schedule.

The Congress was defeated in elections in Nagaland, while the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) managed a political coup in Arunachal Pradesh as the ruling Congress government toppled with 41 party legislators joining the BJP.

"In all probability, the Congress is going to break in Mizoram too and in that event anything is possible before the elections," Mizoram Chief Minister and Mizo National Front (MNF) leader Zoramthanga said.

"We have not ruled out the idea of having a pre-poll alliance with the Congress minus Lalthanhawla and even with BJP."

The Northeast Congress Coordination Committee that met in Meghalaya's capital Shillong earlier this month expressed serious concerns over the party losing grip in the predominantly Christian region and the BJP managing to make deep political inroads the Northeast.

"The Congress high command should not remain complacent and instead take corrective steps and adopt certain aggressive measures to keep the party intact in the northeast," veteran Congress leader and former Nagaland chief minister SC Jamir told the meeting.

"Unless urgent steps are taken, the future of the Congress looks bleak," he added.

Several Congress leaders, including Pranab Mukherjee, attended the meting. The launching of the North East People's Forum (NEPF), a conglomeration of 17-political parties led by BJP and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) last week is another pointer to the growing campaign against the Congress ahead of general elections next year.

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