India’s Northeast, known as the ‘land of rising sun’ is witnessing the lotus blooming. Today in all the eight Northeastern states (Termed as ‘Asta Lakshmi’ by Prime Minister Narendra Modi) NDA enjoys the mandate of the people. In Nagaland, Mizoram, Meghalaya, Sikkim, and Assam, NDA formed Govt while in Tripura, Manipur, and Arunachal Pradesh, BJP alone got a full majority. The rise of the BJP in the political landscape of the Northeast bears significance on several fronts. The hotbed of ethnic, religious and linguistic diversity, India’s Northeast shares international borders with China, Bangladesh and Myanmar and is connected to the rest of the country with a mere 20 km width ‘chicken neck’. North East, which abounds in natural resources and torch bearers of India’s cultural heritage since time immemorial, came to be known for the wrong reasons–violence became the recurring theme in the socio-political discourse of the reason. The development narrative got subverted. Aspirations of the indigenous people remained unfulfilled; issues concerning security remained unaddressed. A sense of alienation took hold. It became a case of a broken dream. “Tute hue sapne ki/sune kaun siski/ Antar ko chir/Byatha palko par thithki…” Vajpayee ji’s poetic lines could best explain the condition. Successionist agitation/militant activities started, and violence killed many. Rashtrawadi organisation’s leaders became the target of militant organisations. Pramod Dikshit, Murli Manohar, and sukleswar Medhi were pracharaks of RSS who were killed by the militant ULFA. Many others laid down their lives to keep the honour of tiranga intact.
BJP, with its “Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas” mission, seems determined to expand its base to every nook and corner of the country. Earlier, BJP Leadership stood by the indigenous people of Assam and supported the anti-foreigners agitation launched by the All Assam Students’ Union. Atal Bihari Vajpayee, in his visit to Assam as Prime Minister, gave a clarion call to narrow down the distance of mind: “Maan ki duriya Mitane hei”. BJP has been able to make its presence felt in all the northeastern states, including the
Christian-majority states of Nagaland, Manipur, and Mizoram.
In the recently held assembly elections in Tripura, BJP got a full majority and formed Govt under the leadership of Manik Saha. In Nagaland, BJP and its allies have won the people’s mandate and formed Govt under Neiphiu Rio’s leadership. In Meghalaya, BJP made a post-poll alliance with Conrad Sangma-led NPP and formed Govt. In Tripura, BJP won 33 seats with a 38.97 per cent vote share. Once a left bastion, Tripura has witnessed the phenomenal rise of the BJP. The left won 49 seats in the 60-member Assembly election in 2013 with 48.11 per cent votes; Congress won 10 seats with 36.53 per cent vote share.BJP managed to get only 1.54 per cent votes. BJP workers, along with its supportive social organisations, worked hard to change the ‘old order’ led by CPI(M). Some BJP workers were brutally killed. But the indomitable spirit never gave up. In 2018 Tripura Assembly election, BJP defeated CPI(M) by winning 36 seats in the 60-member Tripura assembly. CPI(M) could win only 16 seats. BJP got 43 per cent vote share and CPI(M) could garner 42.7 per cent votes.
Once perceived as ‘Hindi-Hindu’ party by the opponent/critics, BJP has now crossed all geographical, linguistic, religious barriers and enjoys wide acceptance across the country. The party now spreads in every nook and corner of the country
In Nagaland, BJP’s ally, the Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP) won 25 seats with 32.22 per cent votes, while BJP got 12 seats with 18.81 per cent votes. NDPP-BJP coalition won 37 seats and formed Govt led by Neiphiu Rio. A decade ago in 2013, BJP managed to win only one seat with 1.8 per cent votes. Indian National Congress got 24.9 per cent votes. This time Congress’ vote share declined to 3.55 per cent. The North East remained a bastion for the Congress party for decades after independence. But of late, its political space is fast eroding. The Christian-dominated state of Nagaland has witnessed the phenomenal rise of the BJP.In the last Assembly election in 2018, BJP won 12 seats with 15.3 per cent vote share. This time vote share has increased to 18.81per cent.
In Meghalaya, Conrad Sangma-led National People’s Party won 26 seats, United Democratic Party 11, BJP 02, and Hill State People’s Democratic Party 2 in the 60-member assembly election. These parties have formed a post-poll alliance and formed a government led by Conrad Sangma. Two independent MLAs have also supported the Government Prime Minister Narendra Modi blessed the swearing-in ceremony of Conrad Sanga on March 7, 2023. A decade ago BJP had little presence in the political landscape of the state.
In 2018 the party could win 2 seats with 9.6 per cent votes. In 2023, it won maintained its seat share. In the 2013 assembly election Indian National Congress got 34.8 per cent votes. In this election, the vote share of the Congress party has declined to 13.14 per cent.
Earlier BJP had won people’s mandate in the Christian-concentrated Northeastern states of Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh. In the 2022 Assembly election in Manipur BJP won 32 seats in the 60-member Assembly. Congress had to be content with five seats only. BJP’s vote share in the state increased from 2.12 per cent in 2012 to 36.6 per cent in 2017 and 37.83 per cent in 2022. In the 2012 Assembly election, the party contested 19 Assembly seats but failed to open its account. But in 2017, the party won 21 seats and formed Government with Naga People’s Front (NPF) and National People’s Party(NPP).
In Manipur, the Christian population is 41 per cent and in Arunachal Pradesh Christian population constitutes 30.26 per cent of the total population. This region of the country is home to more than 400 ethnic communities with their unique cultural heritage.In the last assembly election in 2019 in Arunachal Pradesh BJP got a landslide victory, winning 41 seats in the 60 member Arunachal assembly. Congress, which ruled the state for a long period of time in the past, had to be content with four seats only. BJP got 50.86 per cent popular votes while Cong could garner only 16.85 per cent vote. In the parliamentary election, BJP won both the parliamentary seats of Arunachal Pradesh. Its vote share increased from 47.80 per cent in 2014 to 58.16 per cent in 2019, while Congress’ vote share declined from 43.7 per cent in 2014 to 20.49 per cent in 2019.
Assam witnessed a saffron surge in the 2014 parliamentary election and the April 2016 Assembly election. In a state where the Muslim population constitutes 34 per cent of the state, BJP won 60 seats and 84 with its allies. Its vote share went up to 30 per cent in 2016 from 11 per cent in the 2011 Assembly election. In the 2014 Parliamentary election, the party won 7 seats out of 14. The Congress won 3, and the AIUDF won 3. In the 2019 Parliamentary election, it won 9 with 31.5 per cent vote share. Cong won 3, AIUDF 1 and one won by an independent candidate. In the 2021 Assembly elections, BJP led NDA again got the people’s mandate with 75 seats.BJP alone got 60 seats with 33.21 per cent vote share.
Once perceived as a ‘Hindi-Hindu’ party by the opponent/critics, BJP has now crossed all geographical, linguistic, and religious barriers and enjoys wide acceptance nationwide. The party now spreads in every nook and corner of the country. It has moved ahead with its commitment to development and cultural nationalism.