Guwahati, March 3: All of a sudden the Northeast India has become the latest 'political buzzword' in the country. Thanks to the elections in Tripura, Meghalaya and Nagaland--the results of which will be out on Saturday--all eyes are on the region. A lot is at stake for the political parties in these three states--especially for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the Congress and the Communist Party of India (Marxist). While the BJP is trying its best to win the polls and form governments with its alliance partners in all the three states, the Congress is desperately hoping to retain Meghalaya where it is in power for almost 15 years now.
For the incumbent CPI(M)-led Left Front government in Tripura, it is a make or break situation. If it loses the polls in Tripura, then the Left will further politically diminish from the country's map--as currently it holds power only in the northeastern state and Kerala. On the other hand, if the Congress fails to come to power in Meghalaya, it will again lose one more state after Himachal Pradesh, the elections of which were held last year. The Congress is now in power in only four states and one union territory in the country.
Currently, the BJP is in power in India's 19 states. Losing Meghalaya would mean that the Congress has been almost wiped out of the Northeast region, once considered to be its bastion. Apart from Meghalaya, the Congress currently holds power only in Mizoram. On the other hand, the BJP has been witnessing an unprecedented rise in the region, thanks to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's "vikas (development)" slogan which has well-resonated among the people of the region.
The BJP is having its governments in three states of the region--Assam, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh. If it comes to power in Meghalaya, Nagaland and Tripura--as indicated by most of the exit poll results--the BJP would be successful in fulfilling its "Congress-mukt Northeast" agenda.
With a total of 25 Lok Sabha seats and 14 Rajya Sabha berths, the eight states of the region are crucial for the BJP to add up to its number in the 2019 General elections. At present, the BJP has eight Lok Sabha members from the region, and the Congress has seven. In the Rajya Sabha, out of total 14 seats, the BJP has one and the Congress nine. The rest are with local parties.
The Congress and the BJP are slugging it out in Meghalaya. The Congress fielded 59 candidates, while the BJP had put up nominees in 47 constituencies. Though they are fighting separately in Meghalaya, the National People's Party (NPP) of Conrad Sangma, son of former Lok Sabha Speaker PA Sangma, is the BJP's partner in the North East Democratic Alliance (NEDA).
In Nagaland, the BJP's hope hinges on its alliance partner Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP) of Neiphiu Rio which has contested polls in 40 seats. The BJP fought elections in 20 seats. The Congress, which has given three chief ministers to Nagaland, contested only 18 seats, two less than the BJP.
The CPI(M)-led Left Front government is in power in Tripura for the last 25 years. There is no doubt that after remaining in power for more than two decades, the Left Front government in the northeastern state is facing a massive anti-incumbency wave. Moreover, the BJP extensively campaigned in the state to ouster the ruling party from power. To add to all these, there is a lot of grouse among the people of Tripura regarding lack of development and jobs in the state.
The exit poll results too are not very encouraging for the left regime. Out of the three main exit polls, the results of which were declared recently, two clearly stated that the BJP-Indigenous People's Front of Tripura (IPFT) alliance will come to power in Tripura. Will the Manik Sarkar government in Tripura be able to overcome all these odds to emerge triumphant, once again?
While the Assembly elections in Tripura were held on February 18, Meghalaya and Nagaland went to polls on February 27. All the three states have 60-member assemblies.