Now, BJP sets eyes on Manipur

Now, BJP sets eyes on Manipur

Congress downfall in Arunachal paves way

Now, BJP sets eyes on Manipur

Buoyed by the successful dislodging of the Congress government in Arunachal Pradesh by its ally Peoples’ Party of Arunachal (PPA), the BJP brought its Congress-mukt Northeast campaign back on track.

With five Northeastern states going to the polls in the next two years, the BJP’s anti-Congress platform in the region — North-East Democratic Alliance (NEDA) — is now focusing on Manipur where it is rapidly building its support base.

“Our priority in the Northeast is Manipur,” NEDA convener Himanta Biswa Sarma told DH in Guwahati.  “We have a very strong organisational build-up in Manipur. There is strong anti-incumbency and dislike for the 15-year-old Congress regime. While a senior Congress leader has joined us, it is not like we will open the gates for everyone,” Sarma, also Assam finance minister, said.

He said the BJP will contest the elections alone in Manipur, where the situation is similar to that of Assam prior to this year’s polls with the Congress government losing grip over the state.

Sarma made it clear that the BJP will not have any seat-sharing arrangements with ally Naga People’s Front (NPF), whose four MLAs in Manipur resigned recently. NPF, a constituent of NEDA, is also a BJP ally in NDA.

“NPF has a close relationship with us. But our alliance with NPF is restricted to Nagaland,” Sarma said.  NPF had contested last time in Manipur in the Naga-dominated areas where it did well. Sarma said they are free to contest this time, but the BJP would not have any alliance with them in Manipur since its own organisation is fast developing.

“We will also not induct any NPF supporter or leader in our rank until our national leadership changes their position on this,” he added.

Observers believe that the BJP wants to cash-in on issues concerning the dominant Meitei community in Manipur. NPF has backed the concept of greater Nagalim, which calls for integrating all Naga-dominated areas of the Northeast, an idea supported by the NSCN(IM), which signed a peace deal with the Centre in 2015. Meiteis are opposed to the Naga expansion and the BJP therefore had to distance itself from the Nagas to increase its support among the dominant community.