After the historic win in Assam Assembly polls this year, the BJP announced the formation of NEDA for pursuing the development of North-East India
The energetic Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which thrashed the ruling Congress in the last general elections under the banner of NDA, now floats a North-Eastern version named North East Democratic Alliance (NEDA) to counter the century old party in the alienated region.
Soon after the historic win in Assam Legislative Assembly polls this year, the BJP announced the formation of NEDA for pursuing the development of North-East India. Most of the regional political parties, which are not inclined to the Congress, have shown interest in joining the forum boosting the morale of BJP for making North-East Congress Mukt.
“The primary objective of NEDA, a brainchild of BJP president Amit Shah, is to work out State-specific strategy in respect of like-minded regional parties,” said its convenor Himanta Biswa Sarma, a powerful Assam minister who abandoned the Congress to join the saffron brigade before Assam polls. But the inherent agenda is that the BJP would try to capture at least 20 out of 25 Lok Sabha seats in the next Parliamentary elections from the region (comprising Sikkim).
The formal launching of NEDA has been set for July 13 in Guwahati. The BJP president himself will be present on the occasion. Till date some important non-Congress parties of the region namely Mizo National Front (MNF), Asom Gana Parishad (AGP), Bodoland People’s Front (BPF), Naga People’s Front (NPF), People’s Party of Arunachal (PPA), United Democratic Party (UDP), National People’s Party (NPP), Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura (IPFT), Sikkim Democratic Front (SDF) have joined in the initiative.
NEDA was formed in the virtual capital of North-East India on May 24, the day Assam’s first BJP Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal took oath, which was graced by the BJP chief Shah along with the party’s national general secretary Ram Madhav. Besides Sonowal, Nagaland Chief Minister TR Zeliang, Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Kalikho Pul, former Mizoram Chief Minister Pu Zoramthanga, NPP president Conrad Sangma, UDP leader Paul Lyngdoh etc were present in the meeting.
The Shillong Times, a popular English newspaper of the region editorialised the marches of BJP in the region narrating that Assam’s victory was a starting point. “One doubts if even PM Modi expected his party to win such a massive victory in the disturbed state where ULFA militants’ guns have not yet been spiked! Its success in Assam was largely due to its alliance with the regional parties (AGP & BPF). Regional agenda came to the forefront. The BJP kept its national and Hindutva identity hidden,” said the editorial.
“The success in Assam kept the BJP busy in the last few months building up anti-Congress formations. It has engaged in a campaign to oust the ruling Congress from Meghalaya, Manipur and Mizoram. In Tripura, the adversary is the CPI (M). Elections are scheduled to be held in Mizoram, Meghalaya and Tripura in 2018”, added the editorial.
National English daily commented in one of its editorials that ‘the BJP’s task of alliance building in the North-East has been made easy by the fact that the Congress is the main opponent of the regional outfits in the region’.
“These parties are also open to alliances since association with the BJP allows them a toehold at the Centre, which exercises enormous influence in the region by controlling the funds flow, and boosts their local profile. A pan-Northeast front could also help negotiate inter-state problems better. However, its sustainability will be contingent on the BJP reconciling, without friction, its Hindutva ambitions with the specificities of local traditions of faith and food,” asserted the editorial.