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Last Updated : Feb 12, 2018 07:29 PM IST | Source: Moneycontrol.com

What to expect from the three northeastern state elections in February

Abuzz with political activity, these states have been host to both Congress and BJP rallies as the parties prepare to battle each other during state elections in 2018.

Out of the eight state legislative assembly elections, three are of northeastern states Meghalaya, Nagaland and Tripura. Abuzz with political activity, these states have been host to both Congress and BJP rallies as the parties prepare to battle each other during state elections in 2018.

Tripura

To be held in a single phase, Tripura's elections will be conducted on February 18 and the votes will be counted on March 3 in its 59 constituencies.

The Bhartiya Janata Party decided to fight against the incumbent chief minister Manik Sarkar of the CPI(M) led government in Tripura, who has been in power since 1998, and has shown immense confidence that it will form the next government in the state. The party will field 51 candidates in the polls.

The Manik Sarkar government released its manifesto, focusing mainly on education and highlighting its work in the state over the past two decades that it has been in power. The party focused on growth in agriculture, the income of the state, education and literacy rate of the citizens.

In its manifesto, titled ‘Vision Document 2018’, to show its stress on development rather than caste, the BJP focused on improving health infrastructure and insurance, employment opportunity in every household, implementation of Seventh Pay Commission among other ambitious projects and promises.

The vote share of the BJP in Manipur has been very poor in the past elections.

Tripura Election2

Therefore, Narendra Modi and his party have worked for more than a year to build force against the Left in Tripura. The rallies of the Prime Minister and other ministers from the Centre were very successful and saw a huge turnout in Agartala and many other parts of the state.

The Left dismissed the campaign saying it is pro-business and anti-people, but it has garnered positive reactions from a significant amount of people, as Modi tried to impress Sarkar’s main voters.

Experts believe that people are responding to BJP’s fresh set of promises, as opposed to the defensive stand of the Left. Sarkar government has been credited with the removal of AFSPA and reducing militancy, but has been criticized for its stand on the state’s partition. The separate land Tipraland movement has been led by Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura (IFPT), which became allies with BJP. This has caused a crack in the Left’s stronghold in the state.

After continuous attacks on the incumbent government by the BJP, many think it may be possible for BJP to achieve victory in this important northeastern state.

Meghalaya

The state legislative assembly elections in Meghalaya are scheduled for February 27 and votes will be counted on March 3. The total number of electorates in the state is 18,31,487 with a total number of 3,082 polling stations, in 60 state constituencies.

Indian National Congress has ruled Meghalaya most part of the last 4 decades. Never as a majority party, Congress has been in alliance with the United Democratic Party of Meghalaya, whose member Mukul Sangma has been the Chief Minister of the state since 2009.

After losing Assam and Manipur, Congress is steadfast on securing Meghalaya. It has been worrisome for Gandhi that post internal conflict in Sangma’s last term, senior leaders of Congress have quit from their positions in the state. Congress not being in power in the Lok Sabha is another setback since the state relies on the Centre for most of its funds.

Even though the party has problems, Congress has produced many important and senior leaders in the state and that its strength lies in its past, according to a senior journalist David Laitphlang. But many regional parties are inclined towards BJP, rather than Congress.

BJP did not win a single seat in Meghalaya in 2013 elections and has fielded candidates in 47 seats for the state this year.

Bhartiya Janata Party is confident of winning in the state and it will not be making any coalition before or after the polls with any other party, according to senior party official Rajiv Pratap Rudy.

With BJP’s entry in the race, religion has become one of the main factors for the citizens. Many church leaders in Meghalaya have voiced opinions about BJP being a predominantly Hindu-supporting party. The party also organized meetings with many important religious leaders of Meghalaya to win over the citizens.

Senior journalist and editor of Shillong Times, Patricia Mukhim, is of the opinion Congress has become shaky in the state but it will not be a cakewalk for BJP to win in Meghalaya.

This state is crucial for the beleaguered Congress, and another step in the direction of Congress-mukt Bharat for BJP.

Nagaland

The Nagaland state government polls are scheduled for February 27, with cotes to be counted on March 3. The northeastern state has 60 constituencies.

Naga People’s Front formed an alliance with the Bhartiya Janata Party and Janata Dal-United in 2003 and has been in power since.

For the 2018 elections, Narendra Modi left its 15-year-old ally, Naga People’s Front (NPF), and joined hands with Nationalist Democratic People’s Party and Eastern Nagaland Public Organisation. The NDPP would contest 40 of the 60 seats in the state assembly, while the BJP would have candidates running in the remaining 20 seats.

The party will focus on job creation, equity in development, political empowerment and farmers’ welfare in Nagaland.

Many BJP leaders were found to be unhappy of this alliance and thought that this will negatively impact the party’s image in Nagaland.

After its hopes of an alliance with NFP broken, Congress released a list of 23 nominations in Nagaland a day before the filing deadline. It is reportedly the lowest number of candidates filed by Congress in Nagaland since its defeat in 2003.
First Published on Feb 12, 2018 07:29 pm
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