The North East election results of the three States – Meghalaya, Tripura and Nagaland – prove that the BJP-RSS combine strategy has successfully worked in Narendra Modi's favour once again. It should be noted that North East has been on the radar of the BJP and Hindutva forces for long, but the party laid special emphasis on these States in the last few years. With Assam in its kitty, the BJP leadership focused on the other States and worked to a strategy, deputing its reliable Hemanta Biswas to work the grassroots.
But, the most obvious takeaway for the BJP would be its trouncing of the invincible CPM in Tripura. Led by a clean Manik Sarkar, the CPM thought it would retain power, but the image of Sarkar alone did not help it. A clean CM does not mean a clean government anyway and the violent streak of the local politics, alienation of the tribal groups and nepotism in implementing welfare measures dented the Left image as never before.
Another notable feature is the wiping away of Congress. This goes to show the disenchantment of the people with the Congress leadership and its appeasement policies. While the BJP was able to adapt to the new realities, particularly in the North East, the Congress had nothing new to offer to the voters which reflects its bankrupt politics.
The so-called youthful face of Rahul Gandhi could not cut the ice. Here as well as in Nagaland, the Congress failed to impress upon the people despite raising the controversies like beef-ban, Hindutva campaign and the threat to Christianity. The BJP had allied with the right people very cleverly shifting gears and shutting its mouth on the issues that raked a controversy elsewhere in the mainland. Again in Nagaland, BJP is everybody's friend.
Meghalaya, as expected, is an open call. Who could come to power here is always dependent on the subsequent horse-trading that is expected to take place now. The "others” matter a lot here and as is known to Meghalaya watchers, the BJP has cleverly kept its options open without declaring any alliances specifically. The BJP never wanted to play into the hands of the Congress by splitting the anti-incumbency vote by joining hands with the anti-Congress groupings in the State which gives it a wider scope of negotiations post-results.
Though the Congress has rushed its tall leaders like Ahmed Patel and Kamal Nath to Meghalaya even as the results indicated a hung Assembly, it would not be easier for them to handle the situation and work it to their party's favour. After all, Manipur and Goa must still be fresh in their minds.
All said and done, let us not forget that North East is different from the rest of India. The tone and tenor of the BJP in this region is different from the rest of the States. It is only development that it talked about here. People of North East have been fed up with long years of neglect. BJP did not talk about temple. It did not talk about the eating habits.
It did not talk about any of the contentious issues. Farmers’ issues did not dominate the discourse here. Dalits and Muslims were not challenged by the BJP leadership the way they had been done elsewhere. Freedom of speech, Valentine's day and Hindi chauvinism were not talked about here.
It was a positive campaign all through that saw the BJP win at the hustings in the three Assembly elections. This is not a reflection on the mood of the nation elsewhere!