Congress' northeast bastion crumbles, BJP makes inroads

Congress' northeast bastion crumbles, BJP makes inroads

Congress' northeast bastion crumbles, BJP makes inroads

Northeast India, considered a stronghold of the Congress with five of the eight states currently being ruled by the party, is about to fall into the lap of the BJP and its allies following the unprecedented Lok Sabha results, experts say.

Of the 25 Lok Sabha seats in the eight northeastern states, this time the BJP and its allies got 10 seats, the Congress got eight seats. In the 2009 polls, the Congress and its allies secured 14 seats across the region while the BJP and its allies managed to win six seats.

Though the BJP could not win seats, the party secured record number of votes in Left-ruled Tripura and the Congress-ruled Manipur and Meghalaya. The BJP has also won 11 seats in 60-member Arunachal Pradesh assembly, for which elections were held simultaneously with the Lok Sabha polls.

The Congress, however, returned to power in Arunachal Pradesh securing 42 seats.
BJP's prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi "during his several pre-poll visits to the northeast attracted the youth with the dream of solving massive unemployment problems into the region".

"The unemployment problems both among the educated and uneducated youths of the region are the burning issues of the region," social scientist Indraneel Bhowmik told IANS.

Bhowmik, a teacher at the Tripura (Central) University and an author, said: "The Congressp-led UPA (United Progressive Alliance) government's performance is very poor for the development of the northeast, creating scope for a surge in favour of BJP."

S.S. Ahluwalia, BJP's national vice-president and party in-charge of northeast, said: "During the NDA (National Democratic Alliance) regime headed by Atal Bihari Vajpayee, a separate union ministry, DoNER (Development of North Eastern Region), was set up and the 'Look-East policy' was launched to promote the region."

"But the Congress-led government did not utilise the ministry for the development of the region," he told IANS.

Ahluwalia, who was elected to the Lok Sabha from Darjeeling in West Bengal, said many projects related to railways, roads and bridges launched by the NDA government have been put on hold.

"When Modi visited the northeast for campaigns, we received huge public response, brightening our party's prospects in the elections," he said.

Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi has offered to step down due to the Congress' humiliating defeat to the BJP.

The BJP and its allies got 10 seats, the Congress bagged eight seats, the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) retained two seats in Tripura, All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) bagged three and an Independent candidate managed one seat each in Assam.

The BJP on its own bagged seven seats in Assam, one seat in Arunachal Pradesh while its allies -- Naga People's Front (NPF) in Nagaland and National People's Party (NPP) in Meghalaya got one seat each in the two northeastern states.

The NPF was founded by Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio while former Lok Sabha speaker and Nationalist Congress Party's ex-leader Purno A. Sangma set up the NPP. The NPF is the dominant partner of the ruling Democratic Alliance of Nagaland (DAN).

Rio won the lone Lok Sabha seat in Nagaland while Sangma succeeded in winning Tura Lok Sabha seat in Meghalaya.

The Congress secured 13 seats across the region in the 2009 polls while its ally Bodoland Peoples Front (in Assam) got one seat.

In the last Lok Sabha polls, the BJP got four seats in Assam, the CPI-M got two seats in Tripura, Nationalist Congress Party secured one seat in Meghalaya, while the Asom Gana Parishad, AIUDF, and NPF bagged one seat each.

The Sikkim Democratic Front (SDF) retained their seat in the Himalayan state.

The Lok Sabha elections have been held in five phases in seven northeastern states - Assam (14 seats), Arunachal Pradesh (2), Meghalaya (2), Manipur (2), Tripura (2), Nagaland (one) and Mizoram (one).

The Congress is in power in Manipur, Mizoram, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Meghalaya, the CPI-M-led Left Front rules Tripura, the NPF-led DAN in Nagaland, and the SDF rules in Sikkim.