BJP Tactics to Reach out to NE
Running election campaigns in 25 Lok Sabha seats spread across eight North- Eastern states may be a tough task for the BJP, whose presence in the area is limited to Assam, but the party has been moving strategically to consolidate its base by getting allies and welcoming leaders from other parties to its fold.
The BJP, which still has not been able to forge an alliance with the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) for the 2014 elections, got a shot in the arm as two senior leaders of the latter crossed over to join them. Even former speaker P A Sangma-led National People’s Party (NPP) announced that they would contest on nine seats in alliance with the BJP-led NDA.
Former AGP president Chandra Mohan Patowary and former AGP minister Hitendra Nath Goswami joined the BJP in Delhi in the presence of party president Rajnath Singh.
Sources said the BJP’s local Assam unit was not keen on having alliance with the AGP as they think that the party should have a shot at the Lok Sabha on its own.
In 2009, the BJP had last won four seats out of the 14 seats in alliance with the AGP which had won one seat. As both partners parted ways, they lost in the Assembly elections, which saw Tarun Gogoi becoming the state Chief Minister for the fourth time.
The BJP is pinning its hope on Assam, which has 14 out of the 25 seats in eight North Eastern states. The party has been working on raising issues like illegal migration from Bangladesh, torture of Hindus in neighbouring countries and protecting the territorial integrity of the country to find resonance with the local voters. Leaders concede that it was Gogoi who took the aggressive hindutva line during the last Assembly elections, and that, he managed to score over the saffron party. However, the BJP too has been working hard to woo the core hindutva constituencies in the state. Party had fielded its prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi to hold a number of rallies in the North Eastern states during the last month to build a favourable atmosphere.
The BJP has also stitched an alliance with the NPP. Sangma whose candidature for the Presidential polls in 2012 were actively supported by the NDA, is a natural ally for the saffron party. Sangma would now contest from Tura Lok Sabha consitutency in Meghalaya, a seat currently held by his daughter Agatha Sangma.
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