Congress was unkind to me, says ex-Mizoram Speaker Hiphei

Former Mizoram Speaker Hiphei addresses a press conference in Aizawl

Hiphei believes that he has nothing to loose as Congress was unkind to him.


Mizoram Speaker Hiphei jumping ship to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ahead of the Assembly elections comes as latest blow to the Congress in the North East state. Hiphei resigned from his post as well as from the Congress primary membership on Monday, citing dissatisfaction with the party for ignoring his candidature for the polls from the Palak constituency.

The 81-year-old political figure said he decided to quit came after Mizoram Congress president and Chief Minister Lal Thanhawla failed to give a “green signal” for his candidature. “The Congress was very unkind to me. Thanhawla and other party leaders not only failed to approve my name but also told me to resign,” he claimed.

“The Mara Autonomous District Congress Committee nomination board recommended my name three times and All India Congress Committee (AICC) agreed that I would be the official Congress candidate for Palak constituency. But I was kept in the dark. The state Congress failed to officially release a list of candidate several days after the AICC approved my name,” Hiphei said.

While Hiphei has a positive outlook about his decision to join the saffron party, the Congress believes that this might be the beginning of the end of his political career. Mizoram Pradesh Congress Committee spokesperson Lallianchhunga said Hiphei’s steadfast loyalty to the Congress had contributed towards his stellar political career, which included his work as a two-time Rajya Sabha MP from 1990 to 1996 and 1996 to 2002.

Lallianchhunga is also confident that Hiphei’s resignation was unlikely to impact Congress’ chances in the state as he had been under the scanner for a long time. He said the Congress had been suspicious of Hiphei’s link with the BJP — considered communal and anti-Christian party by Mizos — after he sold his building to the party a few years ago.

However, political observers in Mizoram likely rightly believe that Hiphei’s decision will affect the Congress’ prospects in the state not only because he is an influential mass leader, but also as Hiphei was the fifth Congress legislator to resign from the Mizoram legislature since September. The others were R Lalzirliana, Lalrinliana Sailo, Dr BD Chakma and Hmingdailova Khiangte.

Hiphei will now contest the Mizoram elections on 28 November from Palak constituency on a BJP ticket. Expressing confidence about the BJP winning the Assembly polls, he said: “The people of Palak sympathise with me. I have received strong support from the people and I am confident that I will win the polls on this new ticket.”

He added that the Congress is likely to be defeated due to the internal differences and squabbles in the grand old party.

The seven-time Congress legislator who was once a staunch BJP critic said he was happy to join the saffron party as he did not come across any anti-Christian elements in its ideology. “Prime Minister Narendra Modi has nearly completed his tenure but during these five years, the BJP government did not amend our constitution to alter the secular feature. The party completely believes in secularism and the BJP-led government would not pose any threat to the Mizos and their religion,” he said.

After joining the BJP in the presence of party leader Himanta Biswa Sarma, who is also the convenor of the North East Democratic Alliance, Hiphei said he had joined the BJP as he wanted to contribute towards the development of Mizoram.

Hiphei, also known as ‘Father of Mara” (a native tribe in Mizoram), was dropped from the Congress’ list of candidates for the upcoming Assembly elections. The party had replaced him as its candidate from Palak with former legislator and Congress general secretary KT Rokhaw for the seat.

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