In a massive blow to Mizoram Congress, Mizoram assembly speaker Hiphei resigned from the Congress and joined the BJP. He resigned from the post that he was holding and has also quit memberships of both, the legislative assembly and the Congress party. Hiphei resigned from the Congress yesterday after his name did not feature in the list of Congress candidates for the upcoming elections in the poll-bound state. Later in the day, he joined the BJP. He did not however, disclose the reasons for his resignation in the resignation letter.
Hiphei was elected to Mizroam legislative assembly from the Palak constituency in 2013. Before resigning, he said, “After I tender my resignation from the Congress party, I will join the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).” Hiphei is one of the senior leaders in the state and has also served as the Rajya Sabha Member for couple of times (First from 1990-1996 and then from 1996-2002). Having served two consecutive terms as an MLA in Mizoram, he was expected to contest the upcoming polls from Palak constituency. But, the political difference in the Mara Autonomous District Council (MADC) is supposed to have led the fielding of KT Rokhaw as the Congress candidate. The Congress snubbed Hiphei and the move now seems to have backfired and embarrassed the grand old party, as he joined the BJP.
As of now, the BJP has not announced its candidate from the Palak constituency and Hiphei can be the most probable candidate from that seat. This could further embarrass the Congress as Hiphei was elected in 2013 from Palak constituency and now the BJP will have a strong candidate to field from the very seat. Hiphei’s resignation and his decision to join the BJP will give a huge setback to the Congress. If Hiphei is fielded from the Palak constituency, he will have a definite edge over the Congress candidate contesting from the legislative constituency.
The fact remains that Mizoram is the only north-east state where Congress enjoys power. There was a time when the Congress enjoyed power in several north-east states and the competition was only with the regional players. However, the rise of BJP in the north-east state changed things upside down for the Congress. Today, BJP has formed governments in Assam, Tripura, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh, while it also supports coalition governments in Meghalaya and Nagaland. Thus, Congress is out of power in six out of the seven north-east states. Hence, if the BJP were to dislodge the Congress in Mizoram, Hiphei’s resignation will only ease things for the BJP and can make the north-east, a Congress-mukt region. This explains why Mizoram polls are crucial for the BJP as well as the Congress.
Therefore, it is not surprising that Congress even resorted to fear mongering in the state by propagating that the BJP is an anti-minority party. The Rahul Gandhi led party has urged the people of Christian-dominated Mizoram to vote for the party in the assembly elections next month and argued that BJP’s entry might hurt their religious freedom. The Congress thus relies on its overused trick of instilling sense of fear among the minorities and attempting to turn them against the BJP. However, it seems that such unsavoury tricks are not going to work for the Congress anymore. Hiphei’s resignation and subsequently joining the BJP speaks volumes about the political narrative which seems to be in the favour of BJP and against the Congress in the state. The Congress may well be on the path of losing power in the only north-east state where it is left with power.
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