Assembly poll results in Tripura and 2 other states set tone for NE in 2024 LS Polls
Agartala, Mar 12, 2023, IANS
The recent assembly elections in the three northeastern states - Tripura, Meghalaya and Nagaland - has set the tone for next year's parliamentary elections with as the BJP has consolidated its position and the Congress trying to revive.
Ahead of the assembly polls in three northeastern states, there was no Congress legislator in Meghalaya and Nagaland and was a lone MLA in Tripura.
In the assembly polls, Congress secured five seats in Meghalaya against 21 in 2018 and three in Tripura while the party, like in 2018 assembly polls, could not open its account in Nagaland. The three states have 60 seats each in the assemblies. The Congress drew blank in 2018 polls in Tripura.
Though BJP and its allies came to power in three states, their vote and seat share remained the same or less in the polls compared to the 2018 polls.
The saffron party in Nagaland and Meghalaya secured 12 and two seats both in 2018 and 2023 polls respectively. In Tripura, the party this time bagged 32 seats, four seats less than the 2018 assembly polls.
Of the 25 Lok Sabha seats in the eight northeastern states, the BJP has 14 seats and the Congress has four. While the All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF in Assam), Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP in Nagaland), Mizo National Front (MNF in Mizoram), National People's Party (NPP in Meghalaya), Naga People's Front (NPF in Manipur), Sikkim Krantikari Morcha (SKM in Sikkim) and Independent (in Assam) have one seat each.
The ruling BJP is the dominant party in the alliance government in Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur and Tripura while the saffron party-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) partners -- Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP), Mizo National Front (MNF) and National People's Party (NPP) lead governments in Nagaland, Mizoram and Meghalaya respectively.
Since 1952, the northeastern states had been a stronghold of the Congress but over the years the party lost its organisational base leading to the emergence of the BJP and several regional parties.
Eying 14 Lok Sabha seats in Assam, the Congress like previous efforts, has started to form a 'Mahagathbandhan' (grand alliance) with the like-minded parties.
The Congress on Thursday in Guwahati held a meeting of 10 opposition parties excluding Lok Sabha member and leading Muslim leader Badruddin Ajmal-led All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF), Aam Aadmi Party and Trinamool Congress.
Assam Congress President Bhupen Bora, who called the meeting, said that they would check the division of votes in the next year's Lok Sabha polls in Assam as the BJP always gets electoral mileage due to the division of votes.
Since 2014, the Congress leaders of the northeastern region who left the party include Himanta Biswa Sarma, Sushmita Dev and Ripun Bora (Assam), Manik Saha, Ratan Lal Nath (Tripura), N. Biren Singh (Manipur), Pema Khandu (Arunachal Pradesh), Neiphiu Rio (Nagaland), Mukul Sangma and Ampareen Lyngdoh (Meghalaya) causing a serious setback for the party.
The Chief Ministers of five of the northeastern states -- Himanta Biswa Sarma (Assam), Manik Saha (Tripura), N. Biren Singh (Manipur), Pema Khandu (Arunachal Pradesh), Neiphiu Rio (Nagaland) -- are former Congress leaders and now in the BJP, running the saffron party-led governments.
The Congress' downfall in the politically important northeast region began after the BJP's emergence as Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) came to power at the Centre in 2014 after defeating the United Progressive Alliance headed by the Congress.
With Nagaland moving towards opposition-less government following all MLAs of most of the parties extending support to Neiphiu Rio-led Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP)-BJP alliance government, Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said all parties contesting polls in the northeast must understand that they would have to eventually support the BJP.
The Janata Dal (United) has dissolved the Nagaland unit after its lone MLA has supported the NDPP-BJP government without the knowledge of party leadership.
Sarma, also the convener of the BJP-led North-East Democratic Alliance (NEDA), said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is the 'tallest leader' of the country, and everyone favours him in the region.
Political commentator Satyabrata Chakraborti said that the regional parties had emerged highlighting the local and regional issues. Due to a lack of proactive leaders and central leaders' inactivity, the Congress gradually lost ground to the BJP and the regional parties.
"The Congress could not succeed in effectively dealing with the insurgency, unemployment, connectivity, infrastructure development and solution of the diverse ethnic issues. The party failed to exploit even whatever good steps were taken by the Congress governments including setting up of tribal autonomous councils in several northeastern states," he told IANS.
Chakraborti said that there is no sign that the grand old party would revive its position in the region with a multiplicity of around 400 tribes and diverse religions.
The fall of the UPA (United Progressive Alliance) government and the emergence of the NDA government at the Centre pushed the Congress to a defensive position in the northeastern region," the analyst said.
(Sujit Chakraborty can be contacted at [email protected])