The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Parties to test Mizo waters

New Delhi, Sept. 27: Buoyed by their success in Nagaland, several national parties have decided to test the waters for the first time in the forthcoming Assembly elections in Mizoram.

The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) has planned to go it alone and put up candidates in some constituencies, but its general secretary P.A. Sangma did not rule out the possibility of an alliance.

Sources said the Samata Party is trying to forge a tie-up with the NCP in Mizoram, while the Janata Dal (U), which has fared well in the Nagaland Assembly elections, may also favour alliances with like-minded parties.

The NCP general secretary said his party, a new entrant in the political scenario of Mizoram, has yet to consolidate its base in the state. “It takes tremendous effort and quite some time to reach the grassroots. A token participation would make the party familiar among the electorate,” he said.

In the Northeast, the NCP — with its single point agenda of turning the tables on the Congress — has been able to make its presence felt only in Meghalaya and Manipur.

However, it was the driving force behind the recently-floated North East People’s Forum, a conglomeration of non-Congress and non-Left parties of the region. Given the situation, the NCP would not like to put up candidates and spoil the chances of the ruling Mizo National Front (MNF) of chief minister Zoramthanga, a partner in the forum, a source said.

The Janata Dal (U) has drawn up elaborate plans and has even constituted a six-member committee for the Mizoram polls.

“Discussions are being held with some NDA partners like the BJP and the Samata Party for a pre-poll alliance though nothing has been finalised yet,” said Javed Raja, the party’s Northeast in-charge.

Raja said a meeting has been convened in New Delhi on Monday with the BJP and Samata Party to discuss matters relating to the Mizoram election.

He said the party has a high chance of repeating its Nagaland performance where it won two seats in the 60-member Assembly. “People want change in Mizoram and they are fed up of hollow promises. New faces with a clean track record are likely to perform well in the polls,” he claimed.

Sources said the BJP, which had earlier declared its plan to contest the polls, has also been exploring the option of alliances with other parties.

Barring the Congress, the other national parties have yet to make their presence felt in the hill state. The last two elections have mainly witnessed a three-cornered contest between the MNF, the Mizoram People’s Conference (MPC) and the Congress.

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