The BJP’s nationwide surge has undoubtedly gone beyond conviction, given its strong base in the centre and a multipronged strategy to win some of the major state assembly elections in the past few months.
At the recently concluded World Economic Forum and the ASEAN summit, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s conviction of India’s pledge to ‘Reform to Transform’ and its emergence as a significant global partner to ensure peace, stability and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region, has definitely sealed the lips of the naysayers skeptical about the Modi government’s credibility in the long run.
This year the BJP’s is bootstrapped to launch an intensive election campaign in North East and ensure a victory keeping in sync with its consecutive leads in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh elections.
After the dramatic exit of the Congress from Assam in May 2016 the BJP claimed its ground followed by its win in Manipur where it turned a fractured mandate in its favour by luring 43 Congress MLAs to form the government.
Similarly, the saffron party wrested two major constituencies- the Pakke Kesang and Likabali from Congress in Arunachal Pradesh, slowly spreading its roots in the North East.
The election preparations are in full swing for the incumbent polls in Tripura, Meghalaya and Nagaland for which the EC (Election Commission) has already announced the dates.
As per the schedule elections in Tripura will be held on 18th February, and elections in Meghalaya and Nagaland are is due on 27th February.
The Chief Election Commissioner Achal Kumar Joti announced the important dates reiterating the use of VVPAT machines in all the three states followed by the counting of votes which will take place on 3rd March.
On 26th January when the nation was celebrating Republic Day, the Assam Finance Minister and Tripura poll-in charge Himanta Biswa Sarma officially declared BJP’s alliance with the Indigenous People front of Tripura (IPFT) for the forthcoming assembly elections.
In the 60 member Tripura assembly BJP released the names of its 44 candidates who are going to contest for 51 seats leaving the rest of the 9 for its alliance partner IPFT.
But things may get slightly unwary in the Christian dominated states of Nagaland and Meghalaya where BJP faces the controversy revolving beef-ban, cow vigilantism and church attacks in the country.
To keep the community in good humour the BJP has taken the wise decision of making Union Tourism Minister KJ Alphons as the state in charge of Meghalaya elections, influenced by his pro-beef stance in his home state of Kerala.
In Meghalaya BJP’s main target will be playing the corruption and development plank against the ruling Congress led by Mukul Sangma.
Herethe saffron party is banking on PA Sangma found NPP (Nationalist People Party) to claim victory.
However, the NPP (Nationalist People Front) which is also BJP’s ally in centre and Manipur has stepped down from alliance with BJP, fearing risk of losing tickets.
In Nagaland, the BJP’s election manifesto remains open to ensuring peace talks with the Naga factions which have been pending for decades.
However in Nagaland the ruling Naga People’s Front (NPF) has ended its coalition with BJP and accuses it of “poaching NPF legislators”.
The saffron party has reportedly struck negotiations with the fledgeling NPPF (National Progressive People’s Front) led by ex NPF Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio who has a strong following among Nagas.
It seems that with PM Modi’s “Act East” policy the region is bound to undergo some phenomenal changes in the years to come if BJP grasps power in some of the key North Eastern states.
The Modi government has placed North East as a prospective gateway to South East Asia opening more avenues for sustained engagement, better connectivity and greater investment flows.
We finally realize the fact that while the constant threat of Chinese incursion at the border looms large it’s critically important for India to upgrade its defence and transport infrastructure to make the North East safe not only in terms of security but also consolidate India’s stand on national and foreign policy issues.
With the BJP taking the big leap forward the North East dream doesn’t seem far from reality.