With sacking of Mizoram Congress vice-president, state seems to be heading the Assam way for party ahead of polls

With hardly a few months left before the Assembly elections in Mizoram, the Congress-ruled state seems to be heading the Assam way.

Ex-Congress leader Mizoram Home Minister R Lalzirliana. News18 North East

Ex-Congress leader Mizoram Home Minister R Lalzirliana. News18 North East

The Mizoram Pradesh Congress Committee (MPCC) on Monday afternoon expelled its vice-president and state Home Affairs Minister R Lalzirliana for alleged "anti-party activities". The move has exposed the brewing dissension within the party in Mizoram  and the inefficiency of the Congress leadership to redress an ongoing feud.

Issuing a notice on Monday afternoon, the chairperson of the Disciplinary Action Committee of the MPCC, C Lalpianthanga expelled Lalzirliana.

"It's an unfortunate incident ahead of the upcoming Assembly elections in Mizoram. The decision has been made by the disciplinary committee of the Mizoram PCC. The committee had issued a show cause notice to Lalzirliana a week ago and asked for his explanation," Luizinho Faleiro, All India Congress Committee (AICC) general secretary and party in-charge for the northeastern states (excluding Assam), told Firstpost.

Lalzirliana's office also confirmed the news to Firstpost.

The expulsion order of R Lalzirliana issued by the Mizoram Congress Disciplinary Committee. Image procured by Debobrat Ghose/Firstpost

The expulsion order of R Lalzirliana issued by the Mizoram Congress Disciplinary Committee. Image procured by Debobrat Ghose/Firstpost

Following his expulsion, if Lalzirliana — one of the most popular and powerful leaders in the Mizoram Congress — finally joins the Opposition Mizo National Front (MNF), it would be similar to what happened in Assam, when Himanta Biswa Sarma left the Congress to join the Bharatiya Janata Party.

In 2015, Sarma, a former minister in Tarun Gogoi's cabinet and a popular Congress leader, quit the party following differences with Gogoi. In a letter to the then Congress president Sonia Gandhi, he had severely criticised the then Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi and the leadership in Assam, alleging whimsical attitudes and apathy towards redressing issues.

According to sources in the Mizoram Congress, there has been an ongoing conflict between Mizoram chief minister Lal Thanhawla, who is also the PCC president, and Lalzirliana, and the party leadership had shown no interest in resolving the dispute.

"It was due to the complete apathy of the AICC that never bothered to resolve the issue. The triggering factor was the long-pending demand by Lalzirliana to provide Saitual in his Tawi constituency the status of a district. Right from Rahul Gandhi to Chief Minister Thanhawla and PCC leaders, they had promised the district status, but later the chief minister went back on it. The Congress leadership never bothered to resolve this issue by calling the top leaders to Delhi," a source in the party said.

The tension was at its peak when the state home minister tendered his resignation on 14 September. In his resignation letter, Lalzirliana mentioned that he was stepping down from the post in protest against the unfulfilled promise on Saitual.

Lalzirliana has been elected from his constituency for four consecutive terms since 1998.

"Rahul Gandhi, during a campaign in Saitual as the Congress vice-president, had promised in the presence of the chief minister that if the Congress came to power, Lalzirliana's demand for a separate district would be fulfilled. But unfortunately, it wasn't. Thanhawla prevented it. This has given a message to the people of Mizoram that even Rahulji can't do anything against the chief minsiter's diktat," the party source added.

Meanwhile, the MNF, in its poll campaign, has reportedly said that it will provide full district status to Saitual if it forms the government in Mizoram.

A section within the Mizoram Congress feels that the sacking of Congress loyalist Lalzirliana is an "act of Hara-kiri" by the party as this decision will eventually revive MNF's fortune.

The sources added that the Congress top leadership does not want to disturb the existing situation in Mizoram, which also speaks of the party's inefficiency and inaptitude, given how it allowed the local leadership to commit a blunder.

"The Mizoram Congress will ultimately fulfil Prime Minsiter Narendra Modi's dream of making India a 'Congress-Mukt Bharat' by its own actions, which is very unfortunate. Lalzirliana is a very popular leader, and this fact didn't go down well with the PCC president. On the pretext of financial constraints, he prevented our vice-president's demand, dubbing it an 'anti-party activity'. The disciplinary committee simply followed  Thanhawla's directive and expelled Lalzirliana," a senior office-bearer in the MPCC told Firstpost on condition of anonymity.

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Updated Date: Sep 17, 2018 22:05:13 IST

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