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In Mizoram, political parties likely to field Chakmas despite diktat by influential NGOs

In 2017, the Mizoram NGO coordination committee, the apex body comprising major NGOs, asked political parties not to field any Chakma, most of whom are branded as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh.

Political parties in poll-bound Mizoram are likely to ignore a diktat by influential NGOs not to field Chakma candidates in the assembly elections although no political party has yet announced its candidates for the two Chakma dominated constituencies.

The 40-member Mizoram Assembly will go to polls on November 28.

In 2017, the Mizoram NGO coordination committee, the apex body comprising major NGOs, including the Central Young Mizo Association and Mizo Zirlai Pawl, which exercise enormous influence in Mizo society, asked political parties not to field any Chakma, most of whom are branded as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh.

“If Chakma MLAs are elected, we fear they will misuse their power to shelter more Chakmas from Bangladesh,“ said Lalhmachhuana, general secretary of the Mizoram NGO Coordination Committee, which is also demanding the dissolution of the Chakma Autonomous District Council (CADC) in South Mizoram.

“We sent a reminder with the same appeal a week back,” Lalhmachhuana said. No political party has responded to the recent letter. In 2017, only the Zoram Nationalist Party, which later became part of the Zoram People’s Movement, had said it will not field Chakmas.

Chakmas are a Buddhist minority in Christian-dominated Mizoram.

“The appeal by the NGO coordination committee is under consideration. Chief Minister Lal Thanhawla, who is the chairman of the nomination committee will announce the candidates soon,” said Lallianchhunga, Congress spokesperson when asked why the Congress has not announced the candidates yet for four seats including the two Chakma dominated constituencies.

West Tuipui in Lunglei district is said to have around 60% Chakma voters and Tuichawng, in CADC, has over 90% Chakmas.

Buddha Lila Chakma, president of the CADC unit of Congress said, “The CM has promised that Congress will field Chakma candidates and the announcement will be made shortly.” He said the allegations of the NGOs about illegal infiltration are “bogus”.

In West Tuipui, according to Buddha Lila Chakma, the Congress is likely to field its sitting MLA Nihar Kanti Chakma, who has won the last four polls. “Both the seats have had a history of electing Chakmas since the first Assembly polls,” said JV Hluna, president of the state unit of BJP.

Former Congress minister, BD Chakma, who recently resigned as MLA and joined the BJP is likely to be BJP’s candidate from Tuichawng, a constituency he won in the last polls according to a top state leader. “The two seats are not safe for a non-Chakma,” said this leader adding how these are one of the seats where BJP could be counted as a favourite.

The MNF said it will decide depending on other parties. “If other parties do not field, we will also not field. But if they field, then for us, it will be like allowing to kick a penalty without a goalkeeper. We have told the NGOs as much,” said Zoramthanga, the former chief minister and president of the MNF. The party will officially announce the list of its candidates on Monday but may not announce the candidate for Tuichawng, he said.

News source: The Hindustan Times

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