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US speech fallout: Political uncertainty looms over Mizoram Assembly Speaker

Lalrinliana Sailo

Aizawl: Speculation surrounds the political future of Mizoram Assembly Speaker Lalrinliana Sailo, as sources within the ruling Mizo National Front (MNF) suggest that he might not receive a party ticket for the upcoming state legislative assembly election. 
A member of the MNF nomination committee, speaking on condition of anonymity, indicated that the party leadership is disheartened by Sailo’s independent public declaration during his visit to the United States, where he expressed his desire for the MNF party to merge with the BJP.
The committee member said, “During an interview with media personnel upon his return from the US at the Lengpui Airport, the Assembly speaker reiterated his stance, voicing his favour for the MNF’s alliance with the BJP.”
With the conclusion of the recent assembly session, presided over by Sailo, the announcement of a new candidate for the Chalfilh assembly constituency—won by Sailo in 2018—is anticipated to be made shortly.
Sailo’s statements in the US, where he engaged with the Mizo diaspora leaders, triggered consternation among party leaders and members. His inclination towards the saffron party conflicted with prevailing sentiments in the predominantly Christian state, where the BJP remains a political outlier.
While the MNF maintains its association with the NDA at the national level and the NEDA in the northeastern region, no formal political alliance exists with the state’s BJP unit. The sole BJP legislator in the state, Dr. B.D. Chakma, occupies a place on the opposition benches within the state legislature.
Meanwhile, Sailo recently vacated the Speaker’s official residence in the Tuikhuahtlang neighborhood, prompting speculation about his future endeavours. In response, Sailo clarified that his decision was motivated by his age of 65 years, expressing his wish to reside in his personal residence. He also affirmed that his sentiments towards the MNF party remain positive.
Sailo, who served as a former minister in the Congress government led by Chief Minister Lal Thanhawla from 2008 to 2013, did not assume a ministerial role during 2013-2018. Ahead of the 2018 assembly polls, he left the Congress party and joined the MNF, along with then Home Minister R. Lalzirliana—an influential figure during the Lal Thanhawla administration. 
Both Sailo and Lalzirliana emerged victorious in the 2018 elections, with Sailo assuming the role of the state legislature’s Speaker and Lalzirliana securing a ministerial position, overseeing the Power department and other portfolios.

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