BJP wins as Cong wanes in Christian-dominated Nagaland

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BJP wins as Cong wanes in Christian-dominated Nagaland

Christian and tribal dominated Nagaland is the first state in the northeastern region where the BJP entered the 60-member assembly by winning seven seats in 2003, 19 years after the saffron party first won two Lok Sabha seats in 1984 in the country.

Kohima: Christian and tribal dominated Nagaland is the first state in the northeastern region where the BJP entered the 60-member assembly by winning seven seats in 2003, 19 years after the saffron party first won two Lok Sabha seats in 1984 in the country.

When the Congress’ organisational strength started diminishing in the northeastern states including Nagaland, the BJP started expanding its base in the region, which has 498 MLAs and 25 Lok Sabha members in eight states including Sikkim.

The grand old party, which ruled Nagaland till 2003, could not win a single seat in the 2018 and 2023 assembly polls. The Congress won only 8 seats in 2013 and 23 seats in the 2008 assembly polls.

The BJP first unsuccessfully contested the Nagaland assembly polls in 1987, when the party fielded two candidates but both nominees’ deposits were forfeited. The saffron party fielded six candidates in 1993, who too forfeited their deposits.

In the 2003 assembly polls, the BJP nominated 38 candidates and won seven seats marking its presence in the state assembly for the first time. However, 28 of the BJP candidates forfeited their deposits. In this election, the party secured 10.88 per cent votes.

In the 2008 polls, the BJP’s seat and vote shares reduced drastically. The party contested on 23 seats but bagged only two seats and 5.35 per cent votes.

In the 2013 assembly polls, the BJP’s electoral performance further decreased when the party won only one seat after contesting from 11 constituencies. The vote share also reduced to 1.75 per cent.

In the 2018 assembly polls, the BJP allied with the Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP) and contested on 20 seats increasing its winning tally to 12 and got 15.31 per cent votes.

In the February 27 (2023) assembly polls, the BJP-NDPP alliance following its 2018 formula contested on 20 and 40 assembly seats respectively.

The BJP secured an equal number of 12 seats while the NDPP won 25 seats. The saffron party however increased its vote share to 18.81 per cent.

The BJP’s first state victory in the northeast region in Assam in 2016, came two years after the Modi government first came to power at the Centre in 2014.

The BJP government led by Atal Bihari Vajpayee had created a dedicated central ministry — Development of North Eastern Region — in 2004 for the development of India’s northeast.

The creation of the DoNER ministry and the BJP’s “development mantra” helped the party to convince the people of the region that it always gives priority to the development of all sections.

According to Union Minister of DoNER, Culture and Tourism G. Kishan Reddy, in the last nine years over Rs five lakh crore have been spent to ensure the development of the northeastern region, comprising eight states.

He said that several mega connectivity projects such as 17 new airports, ongoing road projects worth Rs 1.05 lakh cr, and rail projects worth Rs 77,930 crore are being executed.

Unlike the Congress regime, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visits to the region more than 50 times and almost all central ministers, MPs’ and senior leaders’ frequent visits boosted the party to reach newer areas of the mountainous region.

Besides the “development mantra”, many prominent Congress leaders and workers quit the party and either joined the BJP or the other parties helped the saffron party to grow in Nagaland and other neighbouring states.

Political pundits said that the BJP leaders considered that the northeast was a virgin territory for the party and it needed to tap into it if it had to grow beyond the Hindi heartland and stay in power at the Centre for long.

When Amit Shah took over as BJP chief, he had emphasised the importance of the northeast, political commentator Sukumar Ghosh said, adding that the 2019 Lok Sabha polls showed the plans were working beyond the dynamics of state politics.

The party and its allies swept the region in the 2019 parliamentary elections.

Of the 25 Lok Sabha seats in the eight northeastern states, 14 were secured by the Bharatiya Janata Party while its allies won four and the Congress secured four.

The All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) in Assam, Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP) in Nagaland, Mizo National Front (MNF) in Mizoram, National People’s Party (NPP) in Meghalaya, Naga People’s Front in Manipur, Sikkim Krantikari Morcha (SKM) in Sikkim and an Independent (Naba Kumar Sarania) in Assam got one seat each.

Of the 25 Lok Sabha seats, Assam has 14 constituencies, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Tripura have two seats each, Mizoram, Nagaland and Sikkim have one seat each.

After the latest round of state assembly polls in February in three states — Tripura, Meghalaya and Nagaland — the region is again going to play a crucial role in 2024 when Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeks his third straight term.

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