Deccan Chronicle

Northeast helps BJP celebrate Holi early

Deccan Chronicle.| yojna gusai

Published on: March 2, 2023 | Updated on: March 2, 2023
A BJP supporter with others during celebrations after the party's performance in Nagaland, Tripura and Meghalaya Assembly polls, at the BJP HQ in New Delhi, Thursday, March 2, 2023. (PTI Photo/Vijay Verma)

A BJP supporter with others during celebrations after the party's performance in Nagaland, Tripura and Meghalaya Assembly polls, at the BJP HQ in New Delhi, Thursday, March 2, 2023. (PTI Photo/Vijay Verma)

NEW DELHI: It’s early Holi for the lotus brigade as the BJP and its allies are set to score a perfect three in the recently held polls in the three northeastern states. After a nail-biting seesaw electoral battle, the BJP returned to power by winning 33 of the 60 Assembly segments in Tripura and in Christian-dominated Nagaland, where the NDPP-BJP alliance stormed back to power with a brute majority by trouncing its rivals and bagging 37 of the 60 Assembly seats.

Meghalaya, however, threw up a hung Assembly, with the ruling NPP emerging as the single largest party. The NPP in Meghalaya, leading in 25+ seats, fell six short of the magic number. With his National People’s Party falling short, Meghalaya CM Conrad K. Sangma dialled Union home minister Amit Shah seeking his "support and blessings" to form the new government, Assam CM Himanta Biswa Sarma tweeted. As per the latest figures in Meghalaya, the NPP was leading in 26 seats, UDP in 11, BJP in three, and Congress and TMC in five seats respectively.

As for the Congress, its poor electoral showing continued unabated. While top BJP leaders from Prime Minister Narendra Modi to home minister Amit Shah made multiple visits to the poll-bound northeastern states, Congress scions Rahul Gandhi and his sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra were missing in action. The party’s spokespersons, grilled by the television anchors, seemed to be out of their depth to explain the party’s lacklustre performance and the apathy of their top leaders.

Celebrating the party’s stellar performance, Prime Minister Modi reached the BJP national headquarters in New Delhi late on Thursday evening. As he rose to speak, the PM asked the crowd to flash the torches on their mobiles as a mark of respect to the people of the Northeast. The PM said the results showed that the Northeast was not far from Delhi or from our hearts ("Ab Northeast na Delhi se dur hain na dil se"). Amidst chants of "Modi, Modi", the Prime Minister said that the results showed "one of my greatest achievements is the fact that I have been able to win over the hearts of the people of the Northeast".

Earlier, as the BJP-Indigenous People's Front of Tripura (IPFT) returned to power in Tripura, Mr Modi "thanked" the people of the state and took to Twitter, saying: "This is a vote for progress and stability, BJP will continue to boost Tripura’s growth trajectory." As the BJP’s tally came down by at least 11 seats, the party managed to thwart the challenge mounted by the Left-Congress alliance and the new entrant in the fray -- Tipra Motha led by Pradyot Deb Barma. While the Congress-Left alliance was confined to only 14 seats, Tipra Motha led in 13 of the 42 seats it had contested. The BJP apparently managed to beat anti-incumbency by switching the chief minister last year. Tripura chief minister Manik Saha was brought in 2022 to lead the state following the resignation of Biplab Deb, who for a majority of the state leaders had become a "liability". Regardless of its victory, the BJP-IPFT’s vote share fell significantly as compared to 2018.

The BJP also apparently benefited following a split in tribal votes between the Congress-Left alliance and Tipra Motha in over 20 seats.

In Nagaland, the BJP and its partner NDPP (Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party) decimated their rivals and was leading in 37 of 60 Assembly segments, seven more than last time, The state also got its first woman MLA, Hekani Jakhalu, from BJP’s ally NDPP, since Independence. Ms Jakhalu, a 48-year-old lawyer-activist, was among the four women of the total 183 candidates who contested the Nagaland Assembly elections. She defeated Lok Janshakti Party’s Azheto Zhimomi.

The BJP’s politics of dualism seemed to have hit the bull’s eyes in both Nagaland and Meghalaya, the two Chrsitian-dominated states. The BJP, which has been bringing out stringent laws banning cow slaughter in the Hindi heartland, seemed to be adopting a sensitive attitude in the periphery. To win over the Christian-dominated states, the BJP’s state unit chief in Meghalaya, Ernest Mawrie, declared: "We are in Meghalaya, everybody eats beef, and there’s no restriction. Yes, I eat beef too."

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