BJP eyes Manipur, has advantage in Uttarakhand

Manipur, which was described by Jawaharlal Nehru as jewel of India has been under Congress rule for the past 15 years.

The year 2016 will always be the year of BJP in the Northeast. No other national party barring Congress could ever enter the politically impregnable terrains of the Northeast. Led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah, BJP broke the jinx and captured the “gateway to the Northeast — Assam” in June 2016. Before the year came to an end, BJP struck again on December 31. In a fast-paced development, a BJP government was installed in Arunachal Pradesh after 33, out of 43 Peoples’ Party of Arunachal (PPA) MLAs led by chief minister Pema Khandu, joined the saffron brigade.

After capturing Assam, designing defections to form the government in Arunachal Pradesh, the BJP is now eyeing Manipur in the forthcoming Assembly polls. And to win this fight, BJP wants the state’s icon — Olympic boxer Mary Kom to campaign for the party.

Manipur, which was described by Jawaharlal Nehru as “jewel of India” has been under Congress rule for the past 15 years. Modi’s magic and Rahul Gandhi’s charisma will be put to test in March this year. Led by chief minister Okram Ibobi Singh, the Congress has so far managed to survive despite a recent spate of violence and blockades hitting the state. But the anti-incumbency is weighing heavily on the Congress. The BJP, led by Prime Minister Modi is all set to try and woo the Vaishnavite majority in the state. The majority of Manipur’s population is made of Meiteis who are mostly Vaishnavites. But is BJP’s appeal in the Northeast confined mainly to the Hindus in the Northeast, which is a blend of various tribes and people practising different religions? After winning Assam, the BJP formed the North-East Democratic Alliance (Neda), which now seemed to be gaining ground. The BJP leaders believe that Neda would “change the perception of the BJP being only a party for Hindus”. There is a tilt towards the Prime Minister in Manipur. But the problem for BJP is its lack of a face against the veteran Congress leader and CM Ibobi Singh. The CM delivered a masterstroke when he created seven new districts on December 8. By creating new districts he has crafted an image of a strong leader who can take on Christian insurgent group NSCN (IM)’s Greater Nagalim demand.

Waged in a battle to capture the hills of Manipur, the BJP is also eyeing the other hill state — Uttarakhand. In Uttarakhand with 70 Assembly seats, it’s an upbeat BJP pitted against the ruling Harish Rawat-led Congress riven with dissension and infighting. Till a few months back it was advantage Congress. Rawat had consolidated his position and gained sympathy after he trumped BJP’s move to clamp President’s Rule in the state by winning the floor test. But that was then. Congress prospects seem to be on a downward spiral. Infighting, coupled with most of its stalwarts shifting loyalties to the saffron camp are being seen as two of the major causes that could oust Congress from the state. In the last assembly elections, infighting did BJP in, this time it could be Congress’ turn.

There were also allegations of corruption against the chief minister. To add to the ruling party’s woes, BJP has fielded over a a dozen Congress rebels. The last time it was a photo finish. The Congress had won 31 seats, only one more than the BJP. Later, the party managed the support of three BSP, three independent and one Uttarakhand Kranti Dal MLAs to cross the half way mark of 35.

Next Story