Infighting scars Mizoram Congress ahead of assembly elections

Four legislators had earlier quit the Congress following differences with Mizoram chief minister Lal Thanhawla. The defections came just before the elections even as the Congress is seeking to retain its last bastion in the country’s Northeastern region.
Mizoram CM Lal Thanwala is contesting assembly elections from two seats reserved for Scheduled Tribes to negate the anti-incumbency factor. The Congress leader has ruled the state for 10 years.(PTI File)
Mizoram CM Lal Thanwala is contesting assembly elections from two seats reserved for Scheduled Tribes to negate the anti-incumbency factor. The Congress leader has ruled the state for 10 years.(PTI File)
Updated on Nov 02, 2018 01:33 PM IST
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Hindustan Times, New Delhi/Aizawl | ByAurangzeb Naqshbandi and Utpal Parashar

Mizoram’s outgoing assembly speaker, Hiphei, is likely to join the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ahead of the November 28 elections amid infighting within the ruling Congress and desertions from the party.

Four legislators – R Lalzirliana, Lalrinliana Sailo, Buddha Dhan Chakma and Hmingdailova Khiangte – had earlier quit the Congress following differences with chief minister Lal Thanhawla. The defections came just before the elections even as the Congress is seeking to retain its last bastion in the country’s Northeastern region.

Hiphei, 81, who is mononymous, had been given a Congress ticket for Siaha district’s Palak seat. He left for Guwahati on Tuesday and held talks with Assam minister and BJP in-charge for Mizoram, Himanta Biswa Sarma.

“Hiphei first went to Guwahati and then flew to New Delhi to hold consultations with senior party leaders. We have no idea if he will be given a BJP ticket,” Mizoram BJP chief JV Hluna said. “We knew the speaker was unhappy with the Congress. One thing is certain, even if he does not get a BJP ticket, he will leave Congress and will support our candidates in the election.”

Hiphei was not immediately available for a comment.

The state Congress has requested the party’s high command to revoke Hiphei’s candidature. “Considering Hiphei’s age and experience, we decided to give him the ticket. But there was lot of opposition against him from the party workers and we also felt he did not stand a chance at winning,” said Congress’s state unit secretary Bhupen Borah.

Lalthanwala is contesting from two seats reserved for Scheduled Tribes to negate the anti-incumbency factor. He has ruled the state for 10 years.

State Congress leaders have accused Lalthanwala of functioning “independently and in an autocratic manner”. He had skipped the party’s central election committee (CEC) in Delhi last month when the party’s candidates were finalised. Lalthanwala is the only Congress chief minister, who also heads the state party unit. It was mandatory for him to attend the CEC meeting.

Congress general secretary (North East) Luizinho Falerio argued Lalthanwala had sought an exemption from attending the meeting since he is leading the campaign. He said Lalthanwala had nominated Lok Sabha member CL Ruala to represent him.

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