India’s ruling party achieves ‘historic’ poll victory in northeast

As counting of votes in assembly elections reached the final stages in India’s three north-eastern states, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) secured majority in Tripura by winning 31 seats and leading in four others.

This was a big blow to the Communist Party of India (Marxist-CPM) which had been ruling the state for the past 25 years. Congress was wiped out as they could not win even a single seat.

Ram Madhav, the man who shaped BJP’s northeast policy, said the party is set to form a government in Nagaland too along with its ally Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP). Their alliance has won 14 seats and is leading in 13. Congress drew a blank in Nagaland too.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the people of Tripura, Nagaland and Meghalaya voted for the good governance agenda and ‘Act East policy’ of BJP and its allies.

Hemanta Sarma, the mastermind behind BJP’s win in Tripura, said the people of the state voted for change as the CPM government headed by Chief Minister Manik Sarkar failed to bring in development and provide jobs for youth.

BJP chief Amit Shah said the party’s next targets would be communist-ruled Kerala, Trinamool Congress-ruled Bengal and Biju Janata Dal-ruled Odisha.

Federal law and justice minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said CPM has only one Left bastion left now, Kerala.

CPM’s senior leader Sitaram Yechury said BJP won in Tripura using its money and muscle power.

Another senior CPM leader Brinda Karat said BJP won the polls through what she called ‘encounter politics’ — using every means available, good or bad, to grab power.

To get tribal votes, BJP joined hands with Indigenous Tribal Peoples’ Front which was staging violent protests for a separate tribal state called ‘Twipra’, Karat alleged.

Madhav countered Karat by saying BJP joined hands with the front only after the group promised to drop its demand for statehood.

Another CMP leader said BJP won in Tripura because of mass defection by local Congress leaders to their party and support from tribes and Bengali population in rural areas. In a way, these Congress leaders actually won the elections, he quipped.

Madhav said of the 60 candidates fielded by BJP, many had risen through ranks while some seats were given to turncoats.

In numbers, it was an amazing performance by BJP in Tripura as they could secure only 1.45% of the votes during the previous assembly election.

In Meghalaya, Congress won 20 seats closely followed by National People’s Party (NPP) with 17 seats. BJP won just two seats and others, including UDP, won 14 seats.

With the prospect of a hung parliament in Meghalaya, both Congress and BJP are claiming they will form a coalition government. BJP claims the support of NPP and UDP.  Congress leader Kamalnath, who arrived in the state capital Shillong along with party leader Ahmed Patel, rubbished BJP’s claim by saying other parties are in touch with them.