BJP and its Chanakya of Northeast script another spectacular showing 

Retaining Nagaland and Tripura means the BJP has a host of reasons to celebrate. The only spoiler were the results from Meghalaya where the saffron party had pinned their hopes on a better result.

Published: 02nd March 2023 04:44 PM  |   Last Updated: 02nd March 2023 07:40 PM   |  A+A-


BJP supporters celebrate the party's lead during the counting of votes of the Tripura Assembly elections. (Photo | PTI)

Express News Service

GUWAHATI: The BJP and its allies have retained power in Tripura and Nagaland while the polls in Meghalaya have thrown up a fractured mandate, again.

There are a host of factors behind why the NDA dished out spectacular performances in the three states. 

First and foremost is the BJP's focus on winning elections with no room left for complacency. 

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union home minister Amit Shah made all the right noises while Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, the "Chanakya of Northeast", kept his ears to the ground.

For instance, in Tripura, Shah had left it to the electorate to decide if they would like to swim alongside the Congress-Left combine or the BJP. He told them that if they vote for Congress, CPM, or even the tribe-based TIPRA Motha, CPM, which, he alleged, unleashed terror, would return to power. He said the three parties had a tacit understanding and that Congress and CPM, bitter foes for decades, came together only because they were driven by the lust for power.

Tripura's nearly 70% voters are Bengalis. On the rise of TIPRA Motha in tribal areas, a more nuanced messaging was resorted to by the BJP so that the dominant Bengali votes consolidate. 

The Assam CM sought to allay the fear of Bengalis by rejecting TIPRA Motha's "Greater Tipraland" statehood demand. "There will be no division of Tripura," Sarma had declared at a rally. This is believed to have led to the consolidation of Bengali votes in the BJP's favour.

HIGHLIGHTS | Northeast elections: BJP, allies hold onto Tripura, Nagaland; hung Assembly in Meghalaya

Pro-poor initiatives also helped the BJP. 

Over the past five years, over 1.6 lakh poor families got PMAY houses. Also, their monthly social allowance was increased from Rs 700 to Rs 1,000 soon after BJP captured power in Tripura in 2018 and then, it was further increased to Rs 2,000 in September last year. The government kept its employees in good humour by announcing a 12% hike in dearness allowance in December last year. It maintained law and order well unlike the Left Front which ruled for 25 years (1993-2018).

A section of workers of the cadre-based CPM was not happy over the party joining hands with Congress after burying the hatchet. The BJP had managed to oust the Left in 2018 largely because the Congress votes shifted to it. In this election, the Congress' support base was limited to pockets.

In Meghalaya, the results indicated people did not accept the Trinamool Congress (TMC) which made a lot of noise but failed to give fight to the National People's Party (NPP). It had a backdoor entry into the state after 12 Congress MLAs jumped ship in November 2021.

The BJP passed on the message to people through its ally NPP. Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma, who heads NPP, asked people to be wary of TMC stating that it is a party of "outsiders" which protects the "illegal immigrants". His oblique reference was to the TMC's anti-NRC stance.

The TMC made some inroads into Garo Hills, which have 24 of the state's 60 seats and where most of its MLAs come from, but failed miserably in Khasi and Jaintia Hills. It has been a tradition that the 36 seats in Khasi and Jaintia Hills go to multiple parties. Meghalaya, which attained statehood in 1972, has a history of coalition governments. Except for the first election in 1972, there was never a single-party government.

The NPP heads a six-party government but in the lead-up to polls, the TMC and even the allies attacked it on the issue of alleged corruption but Sangma chose not to hit back. He knew people would not like it, for the accusers were also a part of the government. 

In Nagaland, the BJP's worry was more about handling ally Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP) because there is no opposition worth its name. That the BJP-NDPP combine would return to power was a foregone conclusion. 

The Naga People's Front (NPF), which ruled the state from 2003-18, disintegrated last year when 21 of its 26 MLAs defected to NDPP. Similarly, the Congress, which was a formidable force under former Chief Minister SC Jamir, got reduced to a shadow of its glorious past two decades ago. The Congress and the NPF virtually conceded defeat even before the polls by contesting only 23 and 22 seats respectively. The state has 60 seats.

India Matters


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