GUWAHATI: The Northeast is now saffron. The BJP swept the polls in Tripura, bettered its performance in Nagaland and despite the Congress ending up as the single largest party, the BJP and its allies still hold the upper hand to form the next government in Meghalaya.
Mizoram remains the only state in the Northeast where the BJP is yet to make inroads. Assembly elections in the Christian-majority state will be held by the end of this year.
In Nagaland, none of the two major regional players, the ruling Naga People’s Front (NPF) or the newly-floated Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP) of former Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio, can form the government without the BJP.
The NDPP-BJP alliance won 29 seats while the NPF got 27. They will need the help of other parties to cross the half-way mark of 30.
In Meghalaya, where it had no seat, the BJP not only opened its account but might muster a coalition to keep the Congress out of power through political manoeuvring, like it did in Manipur and Goa. Although it has managed to win only two seats, the National People’s Party of Conrad Sangma is a part of a non-Congress front called the Northeast Democratic Alliance (NEDA).
The NPP has won 19 seats and along with the BJP, there is a possibility that they will stitch together an alliance with the United Democratic Party (six seats) and the People’s Democratic Front (four seats).
The Left in Tripura faced an unprecedented rout and the Congress scored a duck. The Congress drew a blank in Nagaland too. The BJP derailed the Left applecart in Tripura with the slogan “chalo paltai”. The party’s young State president, Biplab Deb, appears to be the frontrunner for chief ministership.
Addressing party workers in New Delhi, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said “when the sun sets the colour is red but when the sun rises it is saffron.”
Among factors that worked in favour of the BJP-Indigenous People’s Front of Twipra (IPFT) alliance were anti-incumbency, alleged corruption by the CPI-M-led Left Front government, allegations that the CPI-M worked for the benefit of only its workers and leaders, besides complacency.
The BJP hardly had any base in the state until six Trinamool Congress MLAs, who had won on Congress tickets in the 2013 polls, defected to it late last year.
Sitting pretty for 25 years in power, the Left miscalculated the BJP’s strength. The BJP had a high-voltage campaign, going all guns blazing by roping in almost all its top leaders including Modi and party chief Amit Shah. In contrast, the CPI-M had a lacklustre campaign.