Gujarat Buoyed by its stupendous success in the BJP has turned its attention Northeast India Has focused on where elections are to be held in three states next year. Sounding the poll bugle in Tripura and Meghalaya on December 18, Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a strong pitch for his party by announcing or unveiling several projects worth Rs 6,800 crore. Assembly elections are due in Tripura, Meghalaya and Nagaland in March next year and in Mizoram in December 2023.
Along with Home Minister Amit Shah, PM Modi participated in the Golden Jubilee celebrations of the North-Eastern Council in Shillong. Keep in mind that there are 24 Lok Sabha seats in the Northeast region, out of which BJP currently has 14. At a time when the North-Eastern Council (NEC) is celebrating its golden jubilee, Prime Minister Modi’s visit to Meghalaya and Tripura is in focus. In Tripura, the PM inaugurated and laid the foundation stone for various development projects worth over Rs 4,350 crore in Agartala.
BJP is the first choice of the tribal community – PM Modi
Addressing a public meeting in Agartala, the PM said, “The first choice of the tribal community is the BJP. In the Gujarat elections, the BJP won 24 of the 27 seats reserved for tribal communities. We have given importance to issues related to tribal communities.
The Prime Minister’s visit to Meghalaya’s capital Shillong took place on the day of the FIFA World Cup final match and he used football terminology to describe his government’s achievements in the Northeast.
‘We showed red cards to all the odds’
He said, “When someone plays against the spirit of the game in football, he is shown a red card and sent off. Similarly, during the last 8 years in the North-East, we have shown red cards to all the hurdlers. These include backwardness, corruption, political partisanship and unrest. The prime minister also referred to his visit to the Vatican last year during his address to the Christian-majority state. Modi said, “I went to Vatican City and met the Pope. I invited him to India. That meeting had a great impact on me. We discussed how the unity of humanity is important for mankind.
Significantly, the PM has decided to visit both the states during the golden jubilee celebrations of the North-Eastern Council. Home Minister Amit Shah also participated in this. Chief ministers and governors of eight northeastern states also participated in it. NEC is a body set up in 1972 to plan and execute developmental projects for the North Eastern states. NEC includes eight states Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim and Tripura.
Polling is to be held in Tripura and Meghalaya early next year. The National People’s Party (NPP)-BJP alliance is in power in Meghalaya. BJP is ruling in Tripura. The Prime Minister’s visit to the Northeast comes at a time when the opposition is targeting the government over the latest clash between Indian and Chinese troops along the LAC in Arunachal Pradesh’s Tawang.
BJP’s bet in 4 electoral states
The BJP’s stake is in all the four electoral states of the Northeast. The party has managed to oust the Congress in these states. It is ruling these states either alone or in alliance with regional parties. The Congress has been virtually wiped out in this region and most of its MLAs have gone to the BJP. Some Congress MLAs have also joined hands with regional parties. Although the Congress is unlikely to challenge the hegemony of the BJP, Mamata Banerjee’s TMC is gearing up to challenge the BJP in Tripura and Meghalaya.
TMC has been working to increase its base in Tripura for many years. In 2018, the BJP defeated the CPM, winning 35 seats and securing a majority. Left got only 16 seats. However, the vote difference between the BJP and the Left was only 1.37 per cent. After ousting CPM’s Manik Sarkar, who was CM for almost 20 years, BJP made Biplab Deb the Chief Minister. In May this year, Deb was replaced by Manik Saha.
The BJP’s relations with its main ally, the tribal organization Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura (IPFT), have soured. The state unit of the BJP has formed a 30-member panel to look after the election work, but is silent on continuing the alliance with the IPFT. This party is trying to form an anti-BJP political front. And it can get the support of Congress, Left parties and Trinamool Congress.
The Congress emerged as the single largest party in the 2018 Meghalaya assembly elections, but fell short of its tally of 21 seats in the 60-member assembly. The BJP formed a government in the state with the National People’s Party (NPP) . Konrad Sangma became the Chief Minister. Last month, the rift between the NPP and the BJP came to the fore and Sangma announced that his party would go it alone on all seats in the 2023 elections.
In 2018, BJP had won only two seats. The party aims to lead the coalition government this time. North East Democratic Alliance (NEDA) convenor and Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma is expected to play a key role in improving relations between the allies. The Meghalaya Democratic Alliance of NPP and BJP will face a tough fight with the Trinamool Congress. Congress is also gearing up.
The Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP)-BJP alliance, formed ahead of the 2018 elections, is stable in Nagaland. In the 2023 elections, the BJP plans to contest 20 seats and support NDPP candidates in another 40 seats. In 2018, BJP had won 12 seats. It is eyeing to increase its numbers further in the upcoming elections. However, in November this year, the Nagaland BJP suffered a setback when three district presidents of the party switched sides and joined hands with the Janata Dal (United).
The Mizo National Front government is in power here. In the 2018 assembly elections, it had won 26 out of 40 seats. The Congress could win only five seats and was voted out. The BJP opened its account for the first time in the state when former Congress MLA Buddha Dhan Chakma defeated Rasik Mohan Chakma of the Mizo National Front (MNF) by a margin of 1,594 votes.
This time the spirits of BJP are looking high. The Mizo National Front wants to improve its numbers and so does the BJP. Congress is struggling to keep its party together. The Mizo National Front is part of the NDA at the Center and the BJP-led NEDA in the region.
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