Thursday, July 18, 2024

Northeast ignores Modi’s Congress-mukt credo


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NEW DELHI, June 5: When Narendra Modi became the Prime Minister for the second term, he called for a Congress-mukt Bharat.
The Northeast was the only region that came close to uprooting Congress as it failed to form a government in any of the eight states after 2018. A year later, the grand old party was reduced to four MPs across Assam and Meghalaya.
The BJP formed governments in most of these states as major or minor partners of regional parties. Barring Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, and Tripura, the BJP and its allies slipped in the region.
Congress won the Inner Manipur, Outer Manipur, and Nagaland seats by defeating the BJP, the Naga People’s Front (NPF), and the Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP) respectively. The NPF and NDPP are constituents of the BJP-helmed NDA.
Congress also got the better of the National People’s Party (NPP), a major BJP ally, in Meghalaya’s Tura seat while the Voice of the People Party (VPP) bagged the Shillong seat.
The VPP is neither with the NDA nor with the Congress-led Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance, as is the Zoram People’s Movement that won the lone Mizoram seat.
The Sikkim Krantikari Morcha (SKM), which retained the lone Sikkim seat, is a member of the NDA.
The outcome of the 2024 polls is likely to change the power map of the region considerably.
In 2019, the NDA bagged 19 of the 25 Lok Sabha seats across the Northeast with the BJP accounting for 14 of them. Its allies won the other five – SKM in Sikkim, NDPP in Nagaland, Mizo National Front in Mizoram, NPF in Outer Manipur, and NPP in Tura.
Congress won four seats in 2019, three in Assam and one in Meghalaya – Shillong, held by Vincent H Pala thrice since 2009. The non-aligned All India United Democratic Front and an independent won the remaining two seats, both in Assam.
The NDA ostensibly lost the two Manipur seats to Congress due to the resentment against the N Biren Singh government for its handling of the ongoing ethnic crisis in the state.
In Meghalaya, the VPP emerged as a major regional force after its candidate, Ricky AJ Syngkon dislodged the veteran Pala from the Shillong seat by more than 3.71 lakh votes. The NPP’s Ampareen Lyngdoh was a distant third.
The VPP’s promises to pursue the implementation of the Inner Line Permit system in Meghalaya and bring the state under Article 371 of the Constitution to protect it from “central laws affecting the traditions and customs of the people” appealed to the voters.
The polls were a major embarrassment for the NPP in Tura, which has been held by former Lok Sabha Speaker Purno Agitok Sangma and members of his family since 1977 barring a two-year gap between 1989 and 1991. Congress MLA Saleng A Sangma defeated the incumbent Agatha Sangma by more than 1.55 lakh votes in Tura.
The Congress pulled off a seemingly improbable victory in Nagaland, where it was almost wiped out. The win – the first since 1999 – was all the more remarkable because the NDA-ruled state has no opposition parties in the 60-member Assembly.


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