In last couple of years in Northeast politics, BJP has come up from the far fringes and decisively bagged 5 states.
New Delhi: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Saturday ended the 25-year uninterrupted rule of the Left Front government in Tripura, landed on the winning side in Nagaland and was looking to scramble a post-poll alliance in Meghalaya which threw up a hung Assembly, much to the consternation of the ruling Congress.
In the last couple of years in Northeast politics, the BJP has come up from the far fringes and decisively bagged five states – Assam, Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh, Tripura and Nagaland. A few days of parley, or even hours given the BJP’s alacrity to stitch together post-poll alliances, will make the fate of Meghalaya clearer. Mizoram is the only state among the seven sisters that is still out of the BJP’s basket. Ruled by the Congress, Mizoram goes to polls later this year.
As his supporters beat drums and danced with joy, Prime Minister Modi tweeted that the people of India were reposing their faith in the positive and development-oriented agenda of his party. "People do not have the time or respect for negative, disruptive and disconnected politics of any kind," he said.
The biggest upset was Tripura which has been ruled by the Left Front since 1993. Its chief minister Manik Sarkar, he with the lowest bank balance and a squeaky-clean image, has ruled the state from 1998.
The Red Fort crumbled under an aggressive attack by the BJP that pushed all its frontliners into the campaign battle, charging the Left of sustained corruption, inability to develop the state and disappointing its aspirational youth by failing to provide opportunities.
In alliance with the tribal party, Indigenous People's Front of Tripura (IPFT), the BJP swept to power with 43 seats, and left the Left licking its wounds with 16. BJP has got majority on its own with 35 seats.
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It was a huge turnaround for the BJP, which had no MLAs in the 60-member House and had got only around 1.7 per cent votes in the Assembly elections in 2013.
The Congress, which over the years had played second fiddle in the state and has been in power twice, failed to open its account and its candidates forfeited their security deposits in majority of seats. The Congress had 10 seats in 2013.
Crediting the favourable results to the hard work of party workers of Tripura in the last three years, Assam education minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, who was one of the key architects of BJP’s victory in Northeastern states, said that merger of Trinamool Congress' Tripura unit with the BJP was the most significant factor which consolidated the Opposition and anti-CPI(M) votes across the state.
The BJP contested Tripura on local issues and ignored its ‘Hindutva’ plank in the campaign. This was more visible when the party brought into focus Maharaja Colonel Bir Bikram Kishore Manikya Debbarman Bahadur of the Manikya dynasty. The last reigning monarch of the princely state before it merged with the Indian Republic in 1949, Bir Bikram is credited with planning the kingdom’s capital of Agartala, initiating land reforms, reserving vast tracts of land for Tripura’s tribal population, building Agartala’s first airport and setting up one of the country’s first municipalities and university.
The BJP strategists laid focus on the non-development of the frontier state where unemployment and non-compliance of pay commission’s recommendation for state government employees became a major issue.
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Besides tapping into the youth, the BJP made aggressive best efforts to break the CPI(M)’s stranglehold in 20 seats reserved for tribals, which possibly turned the tide in its favour. The BJP-led alliance has succeeded in winning all 20 tribal reserved seats.
Last elections, the BJP contested in 50 seats and forfeited deposits in 49. The CPI(M) had won 49 of the 55 seats it contested while the Congress managed to win 10 out of 48 seats it contested.
Though the CPI(M) was voted out of power, it succeeded in retaining 43 per cent vote share whereas BJP made significant jump in vote bank by securing 42.8 per cent votes. Its alliance partner IPFT, which polled 7.7 per cent votes
In Nagaland, the BJP will form the next government with its new ally the Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP) as the combine is hovering around the half-way mark in the 60-seat Assembly.
Union Minister and BJP in-charge for the state Kiren Rijiju indicated today the party may also align with its erstwhile ally NPF which has come a close second today. Rijiju said, "The NPF has already passed a resolution on alliance with the BJP".
The Congress has drawn another blank here, with zero seats, down all 8 from last time.
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The BJP-NDPP combine and the NPF were tied 29 seats each till last results.
The BJP was part of the NPF-led government in Nagaland till the Assembly elections but parted ways to join hands with the newly-formed NDPP.
The Union Minister of state for home said the BJP's victory in Nagaland was a historic one as people have shown tremendous love and affection for Prime Minister Narendra Modi and reposed full faith in his vision for Nagaland.
"The BJP has been working with the agenda of development and will continue to do so in Nagaland too," he said.
"It is a win for democracy over brute force and intimidation. Today peace and non-violence have prevailed over fear. We will provide Tripura the good government that the state deserves," Prime Minister Modi said. He thanked the people of Nagaland for supporting BJP and its allies.
"I assure my sisters and brothers of Nagaland that we will continue to work for the progress and prosperity of Nagaland. I applaud the tireless work of the local BJP unit," he said.
This state provided the Congress some consolation, which emerged as the single largest party but did not get the numbers to form government.
The Congress has ruled the state for the last 10 years, eight of them headed by party senior leader and Chief Minister Mukul Sangma. The Congress got 21, 10 short of a simple majority. As it became clear the state was headed for a hung Assembly, senior Congress leaders Kamal Nath and Ahmed Patel rushed to Shillong. Inability to react on time cost the Congress two states last year as the BJP carted away the throne in record time.
The National People’s Party, founded by former Lok Sabha Speaker PA Sangma and now led by his son and lawmaker Conrad Sangma, is a partner of the BJP and a member of the NDA.
Also Read: NE poll results: BJP dethrones Manik 'Sarkar' in Tripura, gains in Nagaland
The BJP, which had won no seats in 2013, won two this time. Its other ally United Democratic Party won 6 seats. Eleven seats have been won by others and these MLAs will be soldiers of hard-nosed political negotiations in the coming days.
Prime Minister Modi said the welfare of Meghalaya is of utmost importance for his government.
These impressive wins by the BJP is expected to boost the prospects of Narendra Modi when he seeks a second term next year.
The voting was a test for Rahul Gandhi, the 47-year-old Congress chief, who took over from his mother Sonia Gandhi in December.
The BJP currently governs 19 of India's 29 states, compared with five by the Congress party. Regional parties rule other states.