MNF to abstain from voting in presidential election
The ruling Mizo National Front (MNF) party in Mizoram has decided to abstain from voting in Thursday's presidential election against the central government's proposed constitutional amendment to redefine the status of minorities.
The MNF has two MPs and 23 legislators in the 40-member state assembly.
"We have decided against supporting either of the two candidates," Chief Minister and MNF party President Zoramthanga said in Aizwal on Wednesday.
The MNF accused the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) candidate Pratibha Patil of planning to 'enact a law suppressing the rights of the minority'.
"The party also decided that it cannot support the independent candidate Bhairon Singh Shekhawat in view of his past antecedents," Zoramthanga said. Mizoram's lone Rajya Sabha MP Lalhmingliana said Shekhawat was indifferent to issues concerning the northeast.
The MNF's coalition partner, the Mizoram Congress Party (MCP), has also decided to abstain from voting. The MCP has two legislators.
Another coalition partner, the Mara Democratic Party (MDF), which has one legislator, said the party high command would take a final decision on Thursday. "If the Constitutional amendment is pushed through as adopted by the union cabinet, Christians in Mizoram, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Goa and Kerala would lose their minority status," the chief minister said.
The MNF would send a memorandum to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh demanding the withdrawal of the proposed constitutional amendment and threatened to launch an agitation if New Delhi goes ahead with the legislation.
Meanwhile, the opposition Congress, which has nine legislators, the Mizoram People's Conference and the Zoram Nationalist Party with two legislators each, and the lone independent candidate have announced their decisions to support Pratibha Patil.