- No senior BJP leader attended the event at the Raj Bhawan in Aizawl
- MNF had distanced itself from NDA at state level over ideological issues
- Eleven other party members were also sworn in by the state governor
Four days after achieving a landslide victory in Mizoram after 10 years, Mizo National Front (MNF) president Zoramthanga today took oath as the chief minister along with 11 other party members at the Raj Bhawan in Aizawl. This is the third time he has been elected to head the northeastern state since 1998.
Senior MNF leader Twanluia was sworn in as the deputy chief minister on the largely Christian occasion marked by Bible reading and a church choir singing "Hallelujah", with no senior BJP leader in attendance. This gains significance in the light of the party distancing itself from the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) at the state level on account of the BJP's "hardcore Hindutva" ideology. BD Chakma -- Congress turncoat-turned-lone BJP victor in Mizoram -- did not attend the glittering event either.
The MNF, however, remains a founder-member of the North-East Democratic Alliance -- a non-Congress political front led by the BJP -- and a part of the NDA at the centre.
Besides Mr Zoramthanga and Mr Twanluia, 10 party members were administered the oath by Mizoram Governor K Rajasekharan as cabinet ministers and ministers of state, taking the total strength of the ministry to 12.
Among the attendees were former Chief Minister Lal Thanhawla, Assam Agriculture Minister Atul Bora and former Assam Chief Minister Prafulla Kumar Mahanta. The latter two head parties that are allied to the BJP in the northeast -- the Asom Gana Parishad and the National Peoples' Party.
The Congress has lost in five northeastern states to either the BJP or its allies since 2014. While top BJP leaders have attended all such government-formation events so far, Mizoram turned out to be an exception. When contacted, BJP sources said it was not mandatory for senior leaders to attend the swearing-in ceremony when the party was not part of the government.
The MNF claimed 26 seats in the recent assembly election, the results of which were declared on December 11, leaving five for the Congress and just one for the BJP.