The recent overwhelming win of BJP in Tripura clearly stated the party’s dominance over the entire of North-east, with majority of support from almost all the North eastern regions emanating from the win of the party in Assam during the year 2016, followed by Manipur in 2017. And now in early 2018 the states of Meghalaya, Tripura, Nagaland. Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim are already held tightly in the hands of the party. If viewed economically and politically, the path through north-east is going to lead to a freeway to the other South-east Asian states, furthering a very strong bond with ASEAN countries like Myanmar and Vietnam.
In Tripura, experiencing a massive elevation, the BJP’s vote share increased from 1.5% in 2013 to 43% in 2018, while for congress, it fell from 36% in 2013 to mere 2% in 2018.
While it was a big defeat for the Communist Party (Marxism), it was not exactly a fault of the leadership as sources say that Sarkar was an exceptionally honest Chief Minister and a good administrator. But the all-powerful voter knows well that the CPM had no vitality in Delhi or in national politics. And since most of the funds pouring into the State Government offers run from the central government, it becomes imperative for the voter to get the needful done.
Another factor that seems to have drawn voters to BJP’s agenda is that people wanted change, another hope was that the north-east would also be filled to the brim with a new range of employment opportunities; new industries coming in and more trade taking place. Also, Modi being the orator he is and the grand promises he makes, the party made sure there is no stone that would be left unturned during the campaigns.
While in Nagaland, the NFP-BJP power sharing relationship dates back to 2003, but in 2018 election BJP decided to have an alliance with NDPP. The BJP leadership seemed cautious enough about these moves even though it as evident that NFP emerged as the single largest party with 27 seats. An alliance with BJP would have given them 39 MLA’s in the 60 member Nagaland Assembly. But BJP went ahead to form NDPP-BJP alliance which had 29 MLA’s, tw less than the figure of 31 needed to form the government.The party also didn’t want to leave the situation tense and fragile, so added to their statement that an alliance with NDPP doesn’t mean they are severing ties with NPF. The BJP is a part of the current ruling coalition in the state that would be led by the NPF.
Ram Madhav went on to twitter to express that BJP is forming a government in Nagaland too, he wrote,” In Nagaland NDPP-BJP alliance has secured 30 seats. With the support of 1 independent we sew comfortably placed to form the government.”
Moreover, Modi went to twitter to express his gratitude for the Tripura win, he wrote, “The historic victory in Tripura is as much an ideological one. It is a win for democracy over brute force and intimidation. Today peace and non-violence has prevailed over fear. We will provide Tripura the good government that the state deserves.”
There have been plans to integrate with the ASEAN countries and it is expected that several commercial connections to South China and South-East Asia will be open, providing a source of major economic activity for the region. A suitable example being the 1,400 km long India, Thailand and Myanmar trilateral highway project. The roads are supposed to link the country for trade, business, health, education and tourism.
Mizoram is the only state where Congress secured its position as the dominant party and fairly, it is because Mizoram knows well about the policies of BJP in parts of Central India and their adherence to religious vows and custom. And evidently, Mizoram fears all these factors being the Christian state, it is.
The BJP party sure has left some of their hard-core ideologies like allowing the consumption of beef in north-east which otherwise if caught in rest of India could prove to be fatal, and also promising to preserve the plethora of north-eastern cultures and traditions.
Well the party seems to look flexible until now, just hoping it remains the same. Which at least in the rule of Congress wasn’t quite an issue in practicality. BJP has its focus kept on Myanmar too as they believe it to be a gateway to other parts of Asia from the east of India. And in future if Myanmar has to be a gateway for anywhere, an imaginative focus on North-east is going to be critical. While knowing the fact that China
Too, has a keen eye on this region as making Myanmar an ally would provide access to its ports and reefs, China already is taking a keen interest to help gain control over the Indian Ocean like it has done in South-China Sea.
With Arunachal and Sikkim sharing borders with Nepal and Bhutan, BJP knows it as a fact that maintaining cordial relations with each state is vital for the country.
The fact becomes more evident when we observe that China is very much sensitive regarding Arunachal Pradesh. This sensitivity led to Beijing denying a loan to India, proposed at the Asian Development Bank in 2009, a loan which was for a project for flood management, water supply and sanitation in Arunachal Pradesh.
Congress, on the other hand feels that BJP is trying to play a blind quest for power and win position at any cost. Congress communications in-charge Randeep Surjewala said,”BJP is following a dangerous game of destabilisation, subversion and usurpation of power in North-East, unmindful of the stability, security, peace and progress. Hope Modiji had cared to learn from Rajivji who put ‘Nation First’ and brought peace to the region by Assam and Mizo accords.”
While there has been a mix bag of emotions, some being positive about the fact that the same party ruling over the centre and state would help in the implementation of further trade and good relations further east. Setting up of projects that amount in to $77million to develop manufacturing hubs in Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam. It would prove to be extremely beneficial to the economy if proven successful. But there are internal factors as stated earlier by the majority of Christian states who would not have dreamt to see BJP winning over the majority of the polls. As astounded the citizens maybe, now all that is left is to hope that even North-east sees better days (“ache din”) as promised by our respected Prime Minister.
Name:Leenor Hazel Lepcha
College:Kamala Nehru College