New Delhi: Having failed to make much headway against the majority Mizo community’s idea about the BJP as a communal force in the last Mizoram assembly elections, the party has embarked on a novel strategy in the small northeastern state – setting up a Christian missionary cell within its unit.
According to local news reports, the cell, aimed at increasing its footprint among the Christian-majority population of the state, would be headed by a new member, Lalhriatrenga Chhangte. The other committee members would soon be appointed with the advice of the state party chief J.V. Hluna.
Pu Lahriatrenga, the state’s first mining engineer, is a well-known name among the Mizos. BJP, for some time, has been trying to bring him into the party fold. Though he was reportedly offered a ticket to contest the recent general elections from the lone Mizoram seat, he had refused it and contested as an independent instead. However, on July 12, he decided to join the BJP.
A Mizoram Post report, quoting an unnamed party member, said on July 19 that the formation of the missionary cell was approved by the party’s northeast zonal secretary Ajay Jamwal on July 17.
The cell would primarily offer help to churches and missionaries and thereby change the BJP’s unpopular image in the state that it indulges in communal politics, a major reason for its defeat in the assembly elections held in November 2018. This was also the reason why the Mizo National Front (MNF), a constituent of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) and the BJP’s North East Democratic Alliance (NEDA), didn’t have any electoral truck with the party.
In the run-up to the elections, MNF was seen distancing itself from the BJP fearing that it would affect its poll prospects. On being asked whether the party’s partnership with the BJP had become a baggage for it, MNF leader and the present chief minister Zoramthanga told The Wire, “I believe I will not need it. Such an occasion wouldn’t arise. I always say, when your wife is in good health, why look for a girlfriend. No need.”
In those elections to the 40 seater-assembly, though the BJP contested in 39 seats, it could win only one in the Chakma-majority areas of the state by giving a party ticket to Buddha Dhan Chakma, a veteran Congress MLA and minister in the last government considered quite popular among his community. Chakma won the Tuichawng seat for the party.