Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses a public meeting in Nalbari district in Assam.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses a public meeting in Nalbari district in Assam. Photo | PTI

It's advantage NDA as 15 of Northeast’s 25 seats go to polls in first phase

Prasanta Mazumdar

GUWAHATI: It will be advantage BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) when the Northeast goes to Lok Sabha elections on Friday.

The region has 25 seats and 15 of them are going to polls in the first phase – five in Assam, all two in Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur and Meghalaya, one of two seats in Tripura and the lone seats in Nagaland, Mizoram and Sikkim.

The BJP rules Assam, Arunachal, Tripura and Manipur and is a component of the ruling coalitions in Nagaland and Meghalaya.

Assam has 14 seats and the five going to polls are Jorhat, Dibrugarh, Lakhimpur, Sonitpur and Kaziranga.

A straight contest is expected between the BJP and the Congress in Jorhat, Lakhimpur, Kaziranga and Sonitpur. The Dibrugarh seat is poised to witness a battle between the BJP and the Assam Jatiya Parishad (AJP), which is a Congress ally.

All eyes will be particularly on the Jorhat and Dibrugarh seats. The Congress’ Gaurav Gogoi is up against sitting MP Topon Kumar Gogoi of the BJP in the Jorhat seat.

Sensing undercurrents of a wavering electorate and Gaurav’s popularity as a youth icon, the BJP had considerably reinforced its campaign. Not only Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma addressed a series of rallies, the BJP stationed a minister and some MLAs here as it had stepped up its campaign.

It will be a battle between experience and exuberance in the Dibrugarh seat where Union minister and BJP stalwart Sarbananda Sonowal is facing a challenge from the AJP’s Lurinjyoti Gogoi. Gogoi is among the leaders who had spearheaded the movement against Citizenship (Amendment) Act.

The polls in Manipur will be held in the backdrop of the bloody ethnic violence between the Meiteis and the Kukis. The Inner Manipur seat will go to polls in one phase and the Outer Manipur seat in two phases.

It will be the BJP versus the Congress in the Inner Manipur seat. The BJP fielded Thounaojam Basanta Kumar Singh, a minister and former IPS officer; while the Congress set up Angomcha Bimol Akoijam, who is a professor at the Jawaharlal Nehru University.

The Outer Manipur seat braces for a triangular contest among the Naga People’s Front’s (NPF) Kachui Timothy Zimik, the Congress’ Alfred KS Arthur and an independent, S Kho John. No Kuki is contesting the polls in the state.

The contest in the two seats in Arunachal will also be a Congress-BJP affair. Union minister Kiren Rijiju of the BJP is up against former Chief Minister Nabam Tuki of the Congress in the Arunachal West seat. Sitting MP and BJP leader Tapir Gao will vie against former minister Bosiram Siram of the Congress in the Arunachal East seat.

The National People’s Party (NPP), which heads the coalition government in Meghalaya, has an edge over others in both Shillong and Tura seats. Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma’s sister and sitting MP Agatha is contesting from the Sangma family’s pet Tura seat.

A multi-cornered contest in expected in the Shillong seat, which is currently held by the Congress’ Vincent H Pala.

The BJP is facing a contest from the Congress in the Tripura West seat where it fielded former Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb. He is up against state Congress president Asish Kumar Saha.

Nagaland will witness a straight contest between the ruling Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP) and the Congress. The contest in Mizoram will be between the Mizo National Front (MNF) and the ruling Zoram People’s Movement. The ruling Sikkim Krantikari Morcha (SKM) and the Sikkim Democratic Front will lock horns with each other in Sikkim.

The BJP is contesting the polls as NDA. The NPP, NPF, NDPP, MNF and SKM are its allies. The allies across the region are known to fight each other. This election, the BJP struck an understanding with allies in all states barring Sikkim and Mizoram.

Meanwhile, Arunachal and Sikkim are also having Assembly elections. The BJP is expected to retain power in Arunachal. The SKM has an edge over other parties in Sikkim.