New Delhi: It could be election season in the northeastern states of Meghalaya, Tripura and Nagaland, but the issue of the creation of a new state of ‘Eastern Nagaland’ shows things were badly handled for over six decades by the Congress both in the centre and in the region.
In 2023, Congress is hardly on the battle scene, but the issue lingers.
Home Minister Amit Shah is likely to visit Manipur and Nagaland on January 6. These are considered important in more ways than one. About his Nagaland visit, the Home Minister had assured the Eastern Nagaland Public Organisation (ENPO) leaders on December 6 during their New Delhi meet. He is likely to visit Tuensang town , the strategically placed border district with Myanmar and the hub of Eastern Nagaland , wherein the demand for carving out a separate state has been rekindled.
An official team led by retired Intelligence Bureau official AK Mishra visited the Tuensang region last month. Mishra is now set to meet ENPO leaders in Guwahati on January 5, one day before Home Minister’s visit to Nagaland.
During his stay in Nagaland, Shah is likely to meet BJP office bearers and legislators. Several local leaders were not happy with the central high command’s decision to play second fiddle to the regional NDPP led by Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio.
There is a strong anti-incumbency mood chiefly for alleged corruption and non-delivery of Naga’s political Solution against the Rio regime.
In Manipur, all eyes will be on Shah’s meeting with civil society groups, including those from tribal belts in the hills.
Substantial Naga tribes, including Tangkhuls, reside in the hilly region of Manipur. The centre is keen to ink a final peace pact with Naga ultras. While the Naga National Political Group (NNPG) is also eager to ink the agreement to end the political/insurgency issue, the NSCN-IM is still stuck to its twin demands for a flag and separate Naga constitution. The NSCN-IM leader, aging Thuingaleng Muivah is himself a Tangkhul.
Two Christian-dominated states of Meghalaya and Nagaland and also in another BJP-ruled Tripura — which also accounts for a substantial number of tribal and Christian voters will go to polls next month.
In Tripura, which was once a communist forte, the saffron party will hope for an easier contest with rivals Congress and CPI-M marginalised.
In Meghalaya, BJP’s mega promise is to provide a corruption-free government focused on people’s socio-economic development. The hilly state of nearly 3 million people has a 75 per cent Christian population, yet the BJP has been gaining ground.
In January, Home Minister Shah is also set to visit Karnataka, which goes to polls in April-May this year and also Chhattisgarh, where polls will be held in November-December, along with Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Telangana and Mizoram.
Shah could visit West Bengal too, wherein the saffron party will try to go for the kill to win more Parliamentary seats in 2024.
In 2019, the saffron outfit had surprised its friends and foes alike and picked up as many as 18 seats.
In 2021 assembly polls, though Trinamool Congress under Mamata Banerjee returned to power, the BJP has emerged as the principal opposition party whereas to the stunning surprise of many the communists and Congress were reduced to zero each in the assembly.