BJP bets big on NE; eyes 21 seats

By-Abhijit Deb

Silchar, Jan 3 (UNI) BJP is betting big on North East in General Elections 2019 and to achieve the goal the party has put its best man forward Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Mr Modi will address back to back rallies in Assam and Agartala to kickstart the election campaign in next two days with an eye to bag 21 seats in the North Eastern states to compensate the losses it projects it will suffer in Hindi heartland states, party insiders said.

During his visit Prime Minister Modi will join two pubic rallies and inaugurate several development projects in three North Eastern states of Assam, Agartala and Manipur. 
Seven states of North East including Sikkim accounts for 24 seats in the Lok Sabha. 

Day’s before PM Modi’s arrival his cabinet has approved high-level committee to implement Clause 6 of Assam Accord which is aimed at calming the raw nerves of majority Assamese population who are irked by NDA government decision to amend the Citizenship Bill. 

Clause 6 of Assam Accord refers to providing Constitutional, legislative and administrative safeguards to preserve, promote and cultural, social, identity of people in Assam. There were other cabinet decisions taken which directly has links to the North Eastern states.

“PM Modi launching his campaign from Silchar in Assam for 2019 election is a clear indication of the importance the region holds in mainstream politics. Facing reverses in recent polls it appears that party has put maximum focus on the region to win maximum number of seats,” Arijit Aditya, Editor of a leading local Bengali daily said.

Notably, the biggest state of the region Assam accounts for 14 seats in Lok Sabha and BJP president Amit Shah has set a target to win 11 of them. In 2014, party won seven seats in Assam.

“To get two rallies of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the first phase of the poll campaign for the region is huge morale booster for the party in the region. Never it happened in the political history of the region that any PM has launched General elections campaign from North Eastern states,” Ranjit Dass, Assam BJP President said.

The outcome of assembly elections in three north-eastern states — the BJP (with ally IPFT) won a majority in Tripura, wrested power in Nagaland (with the NDPP) and consolidated base in Meghalaya – in last one year has added to the party’s confidence that it could replicate the same in Lok Sabha polls. The party is already in power in Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur.

However, Mr Modi has his task cut out as people in the as people in Barak valley with a Bengali speaking majority valley had supported the party in a big way in the 2016 assembly polls. But the publication of the draft National Register of Citizens published in July has created discomfiture in the BJP, because it has left out more than 40 lakh applicants over the lack of documents to support their citizenship. Many of these people are believed to be Bengali-speaking. The region accounts for two of Assam’s 14 Lok Sabha seats. 

The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016, which is aimed at making communities such as Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan eligible for applying for Indian citizenship, is another issue. The Bill, currently under the consideration of a parliamentary committee, is opposed in the Brahmaputra Valley, but is supported by several organisations in the Barak Valley. 

“Before last general elections Prime Minister Modi assured the people of Barak valley that he will end the detention camps of doubtful voters and solve the citizenship issue. But nothing happened in last five years. So people are seeking answers now,” Mr Aditya said.

The Insides Speak