BJP banks on Tripura tribal leaders to woo Chakmas, Brus in Mizoram

BJP banks on Tripura tribal leaders to woo Chakmas, Brus in Mizoram

Courtesy : Nationalist Bureau28/10/2018 09:38

New Delhi: Eyeing the Mizoram Assembly elections next Month, the ruling BJP has assigned Chakma and Reang tribal leaders of Tripura the job of wooing their ethnic cousins – the Chakmas and the Brus – of the poll-bound neighbouring state.

Elections for the 40-member Mizoram Assembly are scheduled for November 28.

The Chakmas and Reangs, or Brus, are minorities in the two neighbouring north-eastern states. But the two tribes have more social and political clout in Tripura than in Mizoram.

The Chakmas call the shots in two Assembly seats of southern Mizoram while the Brus form a sizeable voting force in three seats of central and northern Mizoram.

Tripura Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb on Tuesday, left for Mizoram to campaign for the BJP. But the focus of the party was on the state’s tribal leaders who accompanied him — Social Welfare Minister Santana Chakma and, MLAs Shambhulal Chakma and Pramod Reang.

The three leaders are expected to stay in Mizoram longer than Deb, travelling to remote constituencies such as West Tuipui and Tuichawng to assess the mood of the voters.

Though Mizoram has an autonomous district council for the Chakmas, the dominant Mizos consider them as outsiders and have asked all political parties not to field any Chakma candidate.

The Chakmas claim that they are victims of racial discrimination by the majoritarian government. The Brus too are unhappy with the Congress government for “mishandling” the issue of refugees belonging to their community lodged in six relief camps in Tripura.

Some 40,000 Brus had fled ethnic violence in 1997 and efforts to rehabilitate them have had little success because of security concerns.

Besides, the Mizoram’s Congress government has been opposed to the demand for creation of a development council for the Brus.

BJP’s Mizoram unit chief J V Hluna said the party has ambition beyond the seats where the ethnic minorities are a deciding factor.

“We did well to win five seats in the Chakma Autonomous District Council election (in April). But we hope that our development agenda will hold good across the state to remove the Congress from power,” he said.

The BJP also claimed to have toned down its image of a ‘Hindu party’, pointing to its two candidates — Reverends L R Colney and H Lalruata — as signs of “increasing acceptance” in the Christian-majority state.

Senior leaders admit the BJP has its limitations in Mizoram, where the regional Mizo National Front is the main rival of the ruling Congress.

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