Modi woos the North East on Nido: Will he succeed?

Modi's mention of North East in the recent context shows that it's not only a reaction to the incident in Delhi but part of the North East campaign that the BJP has been running for some time now.

Soumik Mukherjee February 04, 2014 20:32:48 IST
Modi woos the North East on Nido: Will he succeed?

New Delhi: Aiming to put up a grand show in the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections in the country's North East, the BJP lead by its prime ministerial candidate and Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi is leaving no stone unturned to woo the electorate of the region. The brutal murder of a young Arunachal Pradesh student Nido Taniam in Delhi's Lajpat Nagar area recently provided the party with another opportunity and Modi was quick to grab it. The party, which is struggling to play a prominent role in the politics of that region, has in the recent past showed its eagerness to catch the popular imagination of North East India.

Modi woos the North East on Nido Will he succeed

Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi. PTI

Soon after Taniam's death, Modi was fast to launch an attack on the Congress on the issue. "Why can’t students from North East get houses easily?” questioned Modi at a rally in Meerut. "North East is part of our country and we should ensure best of facilities for them," he said.

Modi's mention of North East in the recent context shows that it's not only a reaction to the incident in Delhi but part of the North East campaign that the BJP has been running for some time now.

It's not only in the recent time that BJP had taken up the North East issue. In 2011, following an incident where a Mizo student was beaten up in Delhi's Sarojini Nagar area, its leader Arun Jaitley managed to gather at least 2,000 youths from the North East at a conference. But irony was that while Jaitley was busy demonstrating his support to the North Eastern community, youths from the audience were more eager to ask the BJP veteran about his stand on AFSPA. Nonetheless, BJP has always showed their solidarity with the North East community in the capital. Delhi after all has a staggering number of 2.5 lakh North Eastern voters in its electoral roll.

That BJP is giving utmost importance to the 25 Lok Sabha seats in the North East including Sikkim was apparent when the party launched its North East mission in November 2013. "The party will accord top priority to the region if the party is voted to power in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections," said Rajnath Singh during a party meet in Assam.

"The campaign for North East is on and we have a few agendas for the NE which includes that all Central funds for the Department of North Eastern Region (DoNER) be in the non-lapsable category," said a BJP leader in Manipur. But he was fast to admit that despite the party's hard ground work, the terrain of North East has been unaccessible. "In the 2012 state elections we had a good chance but had to concede. However, it had very little to do with the Congress party per se. Their chief minister, Ibobi Singh is a popular leader and it was his popularity among the voters that worked," he said without wanting to be named.

The BJP insiders statement echoes with observers. Despite campaigning and picking up the issues of North East, it will be tough for BJP to gain any foothold at the region believes journalists and political analysts. "The BJP has to concede in the North East because people of the region still look at it as a Hindi speaking Hindu agenda party," said a journalist from Manipur. "The majority Hindu of Manipur are the Meiteis and they have their own dynamics which is not similar to the Hindus of the mainland," the journalist said. The other states that also remains unreachable such as Nagaland and Mizoram are Christian-dominated who preferably goes with the Congress.

But in the last one year if BJP has managed to gain some popularity in North East it would be in Assam. "Following the riots last year there is a polarisation in Assam," said a member of Assam Pradesh Congress Committee. "People are actually voicing a dissent against the Congress government in the state. There might be demands very soon that Assam wants it own members of Parliament as opposed to Rajya Sabha MPs," he said.

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