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OpinionsBJP has done well in the North Eastern states where polling is...

BJP has done well in the North Eastern states where polling is over

Date:

Divided opposition

failed to give good fight to BJP in the region

By Ashis Biswas

General satisfaction prevails among ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) circles that the Lok Sabha 2024 elections ended peacefully in the eight Northeastern states, but for a few minor incidents reported in Manipur. In three phases, altogether 25 seats were contested.

Relief was more palpable, according to reports reaching various state capitals, among Delhi-based GOI and Central Election Commission officials. Despite elaborate pre-poll preparations /security arrangements for the region as a whole, there was a lingering concern, especially over the somewhat unsettled situation in Manipur.

However, there was hardly any major eruption of poll-related violence anywhere. Voters exercised their rights enthusiastically. Even in Manipur, the overall polling percentage remained well over 70%.

In 2019, the BJP had won 21 out of the 25 Lok Sabha seats in NE states. Observers feel there would not be much of a change in the 2024 results either. BJP circles expect a broadly similar outcome, but intriguingly, Assam Chief Minister Mr Himanta Biswa Sarma who spearheaded the BJP poll campaign, is not talking numbers just yet.

Somewhat uncharacteristically, Mr Sarma refused to speculate how many seats the BJP would win in his home state, while talking to mediapersons shortly after the third phase of polling ended.

Mr Sarma had earlier claimed that his party would win 22 out of the 25 LS seats being contested, while for Assam, he was confident of winning 12 out of 15 seats. His new found restraint has occasioned some media speculation.

As reported in a section of the Assam mass media, Mr Sarma was questioned about his energetic campaign in most parts of Assam, not excluding Muslim or Bengali- dominated districts. As per the BJP's standard political narrative, he stressed the theme of economic development in Assam and the NE states as a whole, in his speeches.

A section of the BJP leaders were convinced that the minorities, whether religious or linguistic, responded positively to the party's campaign, with its focus on positivity.

The Chief Minister explained that given his constitutional duties, he had to attend to the needs of all sections of people as the leader. As an administrator he could not discriminate /differentiate among various communities in decision-making.

He said this in reply to reminders from his questioners that he had earlier announced in unequivocal terms that he did not much care for what he had described as ‘Mian' votes in Assam. The BJP could — and would — win without them. For the record in Assam, ‘Mian' is a somewhat pejorative term in common parlance, referring to a Muslim of Bangladeshi origin. Thus It would not have been surprising if he had skipped addressing a few rallies in the Barak Valley districts or campaigning in some areas in Barpeta, Dhubri or Nagaon, for instance.

The BJP in principle opposes what it denounce as Muslim ‘appeasement' as allegedly practised by the Congress, the Left parties or various other regional parties and groups, for the sake of winning votes. In Assam, the electoral battles are heavily and bitterly dominated by vicious allegations of ‘vote bank based ‘ on part of the BJP , while the parties opposing it accuse it of ‘hardline communal Hindutva'., This year has been no exception.

Could it be that Mr Sarma was now no longer sure of the BJP doing very well in Assam or the NE region, as he was earlier? Is it a sign that perhaps the party's much publicised target of winning 400 seats or more in the LS polls will not be possible? There has been no clarification from Mr Sarma or the BJP as a whole.

Pro BJP think tanks are still counting on the BJP to do better in 2024 in terms of winning seats in the NE region. They are confident that there are factors other than economic development mainly in the infrastructure sector, that should ensure a BJP sweep. The improvement in the overall NE security scenario has been remarkable.

The key to this has been the recent GOI agreements with the strong Manipur-based separatist organisation the UNLF, not to mention the ongoing peace dialogue with the NSCN, ULFA and other insurgent groups. Except for Manipur, there was no major breach of peace anywhere.

Further the challenge from the opposition has not been adequately effective.. As always the main opposition party the Congress failed to provide much resistance in Assam in particular. Infights plagued the pre-election campaign, not to mention the usual lack of support for the state Congress or an understanding of the complex NE scenario, on part of the party high command.

The much publicised INDI alliance opposition campaign, from a hesitant start to miserable finish, was a non-event politically. Even the normally enthusiastic Trinamool Congress (TMC), which reacts like an enraged bull to any initiative taken by the BJP, could not do much in either Assam or Tripura. Its big guns remained busy fighting off the BJP in West Bengal, facing scores of corruption charges.

Regardless of Sarma's new found reticence, the consensus among observers/analysts seems to be in favour of the ruling BJP and minor losses in the region should not hurt it much.

(IPA Service)

 

 

 

 

Northlines
Northlines
The Northlines is an independent source on the Web for news, facts and figures relating to Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh and its neighbourhood.

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