ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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North East India

Development Rhetoric, Ethnic Anxieties

The Bharatiya Janata Party garnered sweeping electoral gains in the North East in the recent Lok Sabha elections. Its victory run, if it has to continue, will depend on keeping its ethno-regional allies together and divert resentment against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2019.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its regional alliances in the North East were victorious in the elections to the 17th Lok Sabha. The ­onward march of the BJP in mainland India was aided by its spectacular performance in this region. The BJP and its alliance parties bagged 14 and three seats out of the 25 seats, respectively, spread across eight states. The Congress party could manage only four seats, while independents won the remaining four. Out of the eight states in the ­region, the BJP is currently in power in Assam, Tripura, Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur, and shares power with its regional ­allies—the National People’s Party (NPP) and the National Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP)—in Meghalaya and Nagaland, respectively. While the BJP is not part of the governments in Mizoram and Sikkim, the ruling parties are part of the North East Democratic Alliance (NEDA) that support the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government at the centre. The Congress, which dominated the politics of the North East for a long time, in the midst of virulent ethnic assertions, identity politics, extremist activities and ­mobilisation and ascendance of ethno-regional parties, has been considerably weakened in this region.

In the 2019 general elections, the largest share of the BJP’s spectacular victory in the North East came from Assam. While the BJP won nine of the 14 seats, the Congress won three and one each were won by the All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) and an independent. In 2014, the BJP got only seven seats, while the Congress and the AIUDF got three each with one going to an independent. In 2014 and 2019, the BJP’s alliance partners like the Asom Gana ­Parishad (AGP) and the Bodo People’s Front (BPF) drew a blank. Of the 10 constituencies the BJP contested, it emerged victorious in nine such as Karimganj, Jorhat, Guwahati, Lakhimpur, Dibrugarh, Mangaldoi, Silchar, Autonomous District and Tezpur, and was defeated only in Nowgong by the Congress. On the other hand, the Congress contested all the 14 seats, but could win only three—Nowgong, Barpeta and Kaliabor. The AIUDF, which contested in three of its strongholds, could win only Dhubri where its leader and two-time member of Parliament (MP) Badruddin Ajmal ­defeated the AGP. Kokrajhar, the lone constituency contested by the BPF was won by independent candidate Naba Kumar Sarania. In Assam, the ruling BJP secured 36.05% votes against the narrow margin of 35.44% of the Congress. The AGP secured only 8.23%, while the AIUDF and the BPF got 7.80% and 2.48%, respectively.

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Updated On : 24th Jun, 2019
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