BJP versus the Congress. This is primarily what it is going to be when the North East States of Manipur, Nagaland, Meghalaya and Arunachal Pradesh go to polls from 2017 to 2019. Early days yet but with the exception of Tripura, where the Left Front has been holding sway for decades, the choice before the voters will obviously be between the Congress and the BJP-one a party which has ruled the country for the greater part of the time after India gained independence in 1947 but now appears to be in the ICU and the other a party which is riding the popularity wave. To the North East States what happens in other parts of the country may not count for much, but it is interesting to note that the BJP has already managed to make inroads into the region, following its stupendous showing at Assam where it unseated the Congress party. That the BJP is serious about making inroads into the region can best be summed up by floating the North East Democratic Alliance (NEDA) wherein it has entered into some sort of a pact with regional political parties of the region such as the Naga People’s Front, the Sikkim Democratic Front, the People’s Party of Arunachal Pradesh, the Asom Gana Parishad and the Bodoland People’s Front. Moreover significant to note that Assam strongman Himanta Kumar Biswa has been appointed the convenor of the newly floated NEDA.
First it will be Manipur, which is set to go to polls in the early part of next year. Tough to say which way the wind will blow, but already the BJP has started breathing down the neck of the Congress party and a party which swept aside all challenges in the 2012 Assembly election may be pressed hard in 2017. Also interesting to note that from a party which had no MLA when the State voted in 2012, the BJP today has two MLAs who seem to be active and ready to pick holes with the Government. And remember this is the third consecutive term that the Congress has been in power here. It is also significant to note that the Naga People’s Front, which has a strong presence in the Naga dominated hill districts of the State is part of NEDA and when the moment of reckoning comes it is more than likely that they will throw their weight behind the BJP. So probably the Congress may not have a strong ally, either at the valley area or the hill districts in the State, when Manipur goes to polls in 2017 and this may not work to its advantage. This could be because the Congress did so well in the 2012 Assembly election that it did not feel the need to strike any sort of understanding with any of the other regional parties here. A strong example that there is nothing permanent in politics and how the poll verdict here comes out will surely impact on the other North East States too.